Chesapeake - 2013 Spring Issue

Winds of Change in Maryland

By Tom Valtin—Following a three-year campaign, the Sierra Club’s Maryland Chapter has victory under its belt, after the Maryland General Assembly gave final approval to send the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 to Governor Martin O’Malley for his signature. The state Senate passed its version of the bill by a resounding two-to-one margin on March 8, just over a week after the Maryland House of Delegates passed its version. Governor O’Malley signed the Offshore Wind Energy Bill into law on April 9, 2013.


Hits and Misses in the Assembly

By Chris Yoder—When the 2013 Session of the Maryland General Assembly drew to a close, environmentalists could count some major victories, some significant setbacks, and more than a few glass half-full, half-empty situations. Like most legislative sessions, it was a mixture of the good, the ‘better than nothing” and the ugly.


Letter from Dave O’Leary, Chapter Chair

As I write this, Maryland is well into spring and getting ready for summer. The thermometer already topped 90 degrees early in April. I am ready for more hiking throughout the summer, and I hope to participate in at least a couple of Sierra Club paddling trips for a chance to cool off over the coming months.


Legislative Summary Table


Introducing the Chapter’s New Natural Gas Committee

Natural gas is an important issue in Maryland.  The gas industry has big plans for the state: hydraulic fracturing in Garrett and Allegany counties (and possibly beyond), new and bigger pipelines and other infrastructure, and a liquefied natural gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay.


Join Maryland’s “Beyond Coal” Team!

This summer we will be working closely with our allies to retire the Mid-Atlantic’s last two large coal-burning plants without pollution controls, the C.P. Crane and H. A. Wagner plants.


Offshore Wind Energy Bill Is Approved! What’s Next?

By Larry Tierney—With the help of a determined coalition of activists, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed the General Assembly, reached Governor Martin O’Malley’s desk, and was signed into law on April 9th. The Business Coalition for Maryland Offshore Wind, currently consisting of 130 companies, have now moved into the Project Implementation Phase of planning and building a 200+ MW (megawatt) wind farm 10 to 23 miles off the coast of Ocean City.


No, It’s NOT a “Rain Tax”

By Claudia Friedetzky—As innocent pleasures go, enjoying a rainy day definitely must rank up there at the top of the list. But this pleasure was lost to me one day soon after I started work at the Sierra Club as a Conservation Representative. I looked at a muddy rivulet at the side of the road during a rainstorm, and for the first time in my life, I truly understood what was happening there. This rivulet was not just muddy water. Instead, I was witnessing a destructive brew of pollutants, toxins and sediment flow into a storm sewer system. We can’t see it, but this brew pours directly—without filtration and at high speed and volume—into another favorite of mine, a river or stream. There this mix of pollutants and sediment does its dirty work, causing erosion, killing small critters and fish that depend on them, and changing the chemical composition of the water so much so that all life is flushed away. The list of victims is long and growing longer. A few familiar examples: the Anacostia River, the Patuxent River, the Potomac River, Herring Run, and increasingly so, the splendid Mattawoman Creek. And, of course, the Chesapeake Bay.


Enacting a Better EmPower Law in Maryland

By Richard Reis, PE—The world is facing a climate crisis as the levels of global warming gases, especially carbon dioxide, have already exceeded the levels needed for a stable and safe climate. As noted in a December, 2012 article in Scientific American, “Extreme Weather Explained,” global climate change has outpaced even the dire predictions of several years ago. At the same time, our health and environment suffers from “conventional” air pollution, including low-level ozone, soot, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and mercury. The principal sources of world-wide climate pollution and unhealthy local pollution are coal-fired power plants. In addition, coal presents real environmental and safety hazards through mining (including mountain-top removal), washing, transporting, burning, and the disposal of ash.


Should Maryland Allow More ATVs in State Parks?

By George Alderson—Off-road vehicle (ORV) riders in Maryland are pushing for more all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes in our state parks, state forests, and state wildlife management areas.

Since February, offroaders have sent a barrage of emails and letters to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). And they are thinking big. One ORV leader, Ken Kyler, wrote to his group: “We are not just talking about access on state forests. We are talking on most any public owned land in Maryland.” [sic]


Continued Threats to Mattawoman Creek Energize Campaign to Protect It

By Jim Long—The two-year-long battle over Charles County’s Comprehensive Plan is reaching white-hot conditions, and the stakes are enormous for Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. On the chopping block are a county deemed the third most valuable ecologically in the entire state, and Mattawoman Creek, once heralded by fisheries scientists as Maryland’s “best, most productive tributary to the Chesapeake Bay,” but now faltering from overdevelopment.


What You Can Do to Help Save the Mattawoman


I Had a Dream . . .

By Richard Fireman—“I had a dream . . . ” were the words that hooked me. My buddy Steve had called in early April to tell me about the dream he had for a 70th birthday party and the resulting plan for a walk from Camp David Maryland to Washington DC to keep the heat on President Obama to stop Keystone XL. Now a month later, after many cups of tea and coffee, meetings upon meetings by a small group of insanely optimistic, highly committed and determined climate activists who live in Asheville, North Carolina, and calls to people at the Sierra Club in DC and Maryland, to, to Chesapeake Climate Action Network, to Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light the dream is coming to fruition in the 2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren.


Walk for Our Grandchildren

The Walk begins in the latter part of July and proceeds 60+ miles over seven days through Maryland to the White House (exact dates and route are being determined).


Important News for Eastern Shore Group

The Maryland Chapter Executive Committee is looking to Sierra Club members on the Eastern Shore to help us with a choice: for the last couple of years, the Eastern Shore Group of the Sierra Club has struggled to meet the requirements imposed on groups by the national Sierra Club’s bylaws. Given these realities, the Chapter must now consider how to best organize Sierrans living on the Eastern Shore in a way that meets Sierra Club requirements.


Group News: Anne Arundel

VICTORY!  Anne Arundel environmentalists scored a huge victory May 1st when the county council overrode a veto by the new county executive of legislation setting fees for the state’s stormwater remediation plan.


Group News: Howard

Once again, our Sierra Club table was quite busy at the Howard County Greenfest at Howard Community College, thanks to member Joanne Heckman giving away some 250-300 native Golden Ragwort plants. The club also donated shrubs which volunteers planted next to the pond on the campus, where we had planted trees previous years. About 2,200 people attended the Greenfest.


Group News: Prince George’s

Every year the Prince George’s Group of the Sierra Club honors an individual within the County for his or her distinguished contribution to environmental service and excellence in activism. Join us at Buddy Attick Park in Greenbelt for the annual picnic and celebrate this year’s award winner! Grilled items and drinks will be provided; bring a potluck dish – salad, side, dessert - to share. The park has a lovely walk around the lake, not to be missed.


Group News: Western Maryland

The Western Maryland Group will host an outing the weekend of July 20 to celebrate Maryland Wild Lands that the Sierra Club has helped to preserve. Options will be a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip into one of the Wild Lands within Savage River State Forest. To RSVP, or to become more active in the Western Maryland Group, contact Sam White at


Learn the Skills of Grassroots Fundraising!

One essential leadership skill in today’s world is raising funds to support causes we care about. Won’t you join us on the Maryland Chapter’s Fundraising Team?


Youth Contributions Could Reform Public Attitudes

By Mikal Walcott—Young people are adept at vitalizing issues, and the environment is a befitting one to choose. The potential for youth contributions in promoting environmental action is great; it could even reform public attitudes.


Sierra Student Coalition Prepares Tomorrow’s Leaders

The Sierra Student Coalition is the nation’s largest grassroots youth environmental organization and the youth-run chapter of the Sierra Club.


Internship Opportunities in the Maryland Chapter

The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club offers many internship and volunteer opportunities for local students. Conveniently located on Route 1, students can take advantage of the diverse openings in administration, web design, environmental advocacy, environmental news reporting, politics, communications, marketing, outdoor education, advertising, publications, and research. Hours can vary from as few as six to 35 hours per week.


The opinions expressed in this newsletter are in general aligned with those of the environmental community in Maryland, but are strictly those of the authors and not necessarily official policy of local, state or national Sierra Club entities.  The Sierra Club prides itself on being a grassroots volunteer organization. The concerns