Archive for December, 2010

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Posted by quinn on December 22, 2010  |   Comments Off on Homepage Image 3

This Might Be the Year for Wine-by-Mail…

Posted by quinn on December 22, 2010  |   Comments Off on This Might Be the Year for Wine-by-Mail…

From Scott Calvert in today’s Baltimore Sun:

Comptroller Peter Franchot released Tuesday a long-awaited report that wine enthusiasts hope will clear the way for legislation allowing wine-by-mail sales in Maryland.

The report, ordered by state legislators, offered a detailed look at how 37 states and the District of Columbia have drafted and implemented laws permitting direct shipment of alcoholic beverages. It contains no overall policy recommendation, and Franchot emphasized that it was “a starting point for legislative debate.” Continue Reading…

New Clean Energy Loans Help Lower Heating Bills

Posted by quinn on December 21, 2010  |   Comments Off on New Clean Energy Loans Help Lower Heating Bills

From Tim Wheeler in today’s “B’More Green” blog in The Baltimore Sun:

The frigid weather this winter will bring higher utility bills to many Maryland households, but residents can now apply for low-cost loans to beef up their homes’ insulation and heating systems.

The Maryland Clean Energy Center this week launched the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program, under which qualified applicants can borrow up to $20,000 to plug air leaks, seal ducts and replace aging furnaces, among other things.

To qualify, a resident first must get a home energy audit. The loans need not be secured by the applicant’s home. The interest rate is 6.99 percent – which the center says is half what commercial banks charge on most unsecured loans.

The loan program, offered in partnership with the Maryland Energy Administration, is underwritten with federal stimulus funds. It’s aimed at helping the state achieve its twin goals of reducing energy use 15 percent by 2015 and of cutting carbon-dioxide emissions 20 percent by 2025.

To apply or learn more, go here.  Or call 301-738-6280 or email loans@mdcleanenergy.org

MD Near Top in Transportation Choices

Posted by quinn on December 14, 2010  |   Comments Off on MD Near Top in Transportation Choices

From Michael Dresser, in The Baltimore Sun‘s “Getting There” blog:

A report issued by two leading environmental advocacy groups ranks Maryland No. 2 among the 50 states in adopting transportation policies that contribute to a reduction of carbon emissions that have been linked to climate change.

The study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Smart Growth America ranked Maryland as one of three states in the top tier along with No. 1 California and No. 3 New Jersey. But overall the report was highly  critical of state efforts, with far more states in the bottom tier than at the top in how they align their transportation spending and policies to anti-pollution goals.

Maryland ranked particularly high for its focus on investing state dollars in transit and in supporting transit-oriented development, former  Gov. Parris N. Glendening, now president of the Smart Growth America Leadership Institute, said during a phone-in news conference.

Glendening said Americans can’t affort to sit back and wait for technological solutions to the problem of carbon emissions. “Technology by itself willl not solve the problem,” he said. The former governor said states have an important role to pay in setting transportation policies that help achieve environmental goals.

“States will reap the rewards in terms of less pollution,” he said. Among the advantages, he said, will be better, more walkable neighborhoods and more vibrant economies.

The report reflects the environmental groups’ emphasis on public transportation and other alternatives to traditional highway expansion. It ranked Maryland highly in terms of its anti-pollution spending, its state spending on publiic transportation, its commuter incentives and its policies for channeling growth into already developed areas. It scored less well in such areas as  the emphasis it puts on highway maintenance over new construction and its support for bicycling and other non-motorized transportation.

Glendening, who has remained active on environmental issues since leaving office in 2003, said he briefed Gov. Martin O’Malley on the contents of the report. He said the governor asked for suggestions on how Maryland could rank higher in subsequent updates of the study.

The former governor praised O’Malley’s administration for building on the smart growth program that was codified under the Glendening administration.

Dru Dchmidt-Perkins, executive director of environmental group 1,000 Friends of Maryland, said it was “a real pleasure” to see the state ranked higher than its peers. But she said the state still has a long way to go in linking its ttransportation priorities with environmental goals.

“Most of our important projects come up  from local governments without any connection to regional or state goals,” she said.

The Bay’s Pioneering Oyster Farms

Posted by quinn on December 9, 2010  |   Comments Off on The Bay’s Pioneering Oyster Farms

From Tim Wheeler in today’s “B’More Green” blog in The Baltimore Sun:

For those who love oysters – and if we want to save the Chesapeake Bay, we should all care about these shellfish with their gooey grey insides – the Bay Journal has published a terrific series about the push to bring them back by “farming” them.

Time was when folks the world over associated the Chesapeake with oysters. Watermen in Maryland and Virginia hauled in millions upon millions of bushels of the bivalves every year, and eateries across the nation featured what was then the bay’s signature seafood on their menus.

Oysters have fallen on hard times since then, as has the bay. Overharvesting in those seeming days of plenty, habitat loss and now diseases peculiar to the bivalves have ravaged the Chesapeake’s population and decimated a once-thriving fishing industry. Their decline has hurt the bay, because oysters filter the water and helped keep it clean.  Many believe replenishing the bay’s oysters, with their filtering capacity, is key to restoring the bay.

So now, after a decades-long slump, Maryland is trying to reverse the oyster’s fortunes.  Breaking from a longstanding focus on sustaining the state’s traditional wild fishery, officials have set aside large areas of the bay and its rivers as sanctuaries, putting them off limits to commercial harvest and replanting them with hatchery-reared oysters.  The hope is they’ll survive the lingering diseases and thrive – and help clean up the bay’s water quality.

At the same time, the state is offering to help the state’s watermen shift into raising their own bivalves, rather than continuing to rely on the remaining public waters to make a living. Aquaculture is a brave new world for them, fraught with challenges and risks, but not a completely untested path, as neighboring Virginia has long encouraged private oyster cultivation in its portion of the bay.

A handfull of pioneers have taken the plunge, and the Journal series just completed by Rona Kobell recounts the struggles and successes they’ve had.   To read the first two parts, go here and here.

As someone who lives for eating oysters, I’m grateful she’s told their tales – and just a little jealous that she found a way to spend so much time around my favorite food.   Her series is well worth the read, and food for thought, even if oysters are not your idea of a tasty meal.  Perhaps the efforts of hardy individuals like these, when enough follow their lead, can make a difference in bringing back oysters – and the bay.

B’more Building Wins “Smart” and “Green” Award

Posted by quinn on December 1, 2010  |   Comments Off on B’more Building Wins “Smart” and “Green” Award

From Tim Wheeler in today’s “B’More Green” blog in The Baltimore Sun:

Miller’s Court already has gotten plenty of props here in Baltimore for providing affordable housing for teachers, but now the former tin-can factory in Charles Village has earned national recognition as a model of “smart” and green building.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the $21 million redevelopment as one of five projects receiving its annual “Smart Growth Achievement” awards.

Originally built in 1874, Miller’s Court was reclaimed from drug dealers and squatters and converted into apartments for teachers and offices for nonprofit groups.

Besides offerng relatively low-cost housing in a walkable urban setting close to shopping and other amenities, the building also was rehabbed to be easier on the environment.  Its developers are seeking LEED gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for its location and its features, such as large windows to reduce daytime lighting, enhanced air ventilation filters, less toxic paints and adhesives, and a greenhouse.

The building at Howard and 26th streets was the work of developers Donald and Thibault Manekin with Seawall Development Co.

UPDATE: The developer’s at work on Union Mill, a repeat of its award-winning project.  It’s a rehab of an old stone mill in Hamden into more teacher-discounted apartments and offices, promising “the latest in environmentally sustainable green design.”