John Shields Cooks Up "The New Chesapeake Kitchen"

Tom talks with Gertrude's restaurant owner John Shields about his newest book "The New Chesapeake Kitchen," which makes the case that we should all make our eating habits more sustainable.

House Republicans Advance Bill that Would Derail Chesapeake Cleanup

This month, the U.S. Senate will be considering legislation that threatens to reverse historic progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.On July 19, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 213 to 202 – largely along partisan lines – to pass a budget amendment that would prohibit the federal Environmental Protection Agency from penalizing states that fail to meet pollution limits for the bay imposed by EPA in 2010.The lead sponsor was Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, an ally of the farm lobby, which went to court to contest the federal Bay pollution limits."The EPA cannot be allowed to railroad the states and micromanage the process," Goodlatte said. "With this amendment, we are simply telling the EPA the important role that states play in implementing the Clean Water Act and preventing another federal power grab."

Republicans, on Anti-Regulatory Roll, Aim at Endangered Species Act

According to the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, more than 40 percent of mammal species have experienced severe population declines over the last century, meaning that their range has shrunk more than 80 percent.Almost 200 species of vertebrates have gone extinct over the last 100 years, a rate of about two extinctions per year. That's 100 times the historic rate. Previous mass die-offs have been caused by asteroids, volcanos and other natural catastrophes. But this one has been triggered by human population growth, development, and climate change, scientists have concluded.

The Potomac Riverkeeper's Epic Journey

Dean Naujoks fires up the engine of his boat at the Bell Haven Marina in Alexandria, Virginia, and heads out to his version of an office cubicle: the wide, windy, greenish-gray currents of the Potomac River."This is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge," Naujoks says as he guides the boat on a sunny morning. "And then right over here is Jones Point Lighthouse. This is the oldest riverine lighthouse in the country."For the last three and a half years, Naujoks – a 49-year-old veteran environmental activist and son of a tool-and-die maker from Eastern Pennsylvania – has worked as the Potomac Riverkeeper, leading a nonprofit organization that advocates for cleaner water.

Former Coal Lobbyist Now Free to Shape Coal Regulations as EPA Chief

When he was on the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to impose new rules to keep lobbyists out of government. "If I'm elected president, we are going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.," Trump proclaimed.But he didn't ban the hiring of lobbyists to his administration – far from it. On January 28, 2017, he signed an executive order that simply requires any lobbyists hired by his administration to refrain — for two years — from participating in discussion of any issue areas on which they lobbied for industry.This question became relevant last week when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid multiple investigations of his mismanagement and misspending. His replacement as acting EPA Administrator is Andrew Wheeler, a longtime former lobbyist for the coal and energy industries.

Study of E-Cigarettes Reveals Brain-Damaging Lead in "Vaping"

It's almost impossible to walk into a convenience store, pass a bus stop, or even to watch You Tube videos these days without being assaulted with ads for vaping or electronic cigarettes.This online ad features a cool-looking young actor on the beach, with the surf crashing behind him. "Blue e-cigs," the narrator says. "Blue lets me enjoy smoking without it affecting the people around me because it's vapor, not tobacco smoke. That means there's no ash. And best of all, no offensive odor."But is that really true – that vaping does not affect the people around you? That it's harmless, creating no indoor air pollution?"No," said Ana Maria Rule, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It is definitely not smoking, that's a good distinction to make. However, I don't know where people get this idea that (vaping) is harmless because the chemicals that are being heated up from the liquid are not harmless chemicals."

More Heavy Rainfalls Part of International Climate Trend

On Sunday evening, another rainstorm drenched the Baltimore area, turning gutters into rivers and streams into muddy torrents.A day earlier, heavy rainfall caused the worst flooding in two decades along the Rappahanock River in Virginia, inundating several homes.And on May 27, flash floods devastated historic Ellicott City, Maryland, for the second time in as many years, flipping cars and killing a National Guard sergeant.May turned out to be the third rainiest in Maryland history, with eight inches falling, more than twice the average for that month, according to National Weather Service monitoring at BWI airport. So far in June, almost 5 more inches of rain have fallen – about a third more than is normal for a June.

Three New Books Inspire Dreams of Outdoor Adventures in Maryland

After a spring of wretched downpours and cold, cloudy weather, summer has finally begun — at least unofficially — and the bullfrogs are singing its praise.I slide my kayak into the lake at Tuckahoe State Park on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It's a sunny, breezy afternoon, and the lake is fringed by swaying reeds and the arrow-shaped leaves of water plants — called Tuckahoe – whose roots were an important source of food for Native Americans.

Green Accounting and the Economic Value of Nature

I was paddling down the Big Gunpowder Falls near Sparks, Maryland, when I saw a great blue heron standing on a log in the river, tall and elegant. As I drifted closer, it launched into the air and flew over my head, its six-foot wingspan and knife-like beak all the more impressive at close range.Nearby, atop the riverbank, was a house. I thought: what is the economic value of this heron to that homeowner? Would he be able to sell his house for $505,000 instead of $500,000 if a buyer saw the heron before agreeing to the price? Or maybe the location and the view of the river are all that matter in the fast-moving world of real estate transactions.

Scientists Use Genetic Testing to Analyze Diet of Monster Blue Catfish

In a laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, zoologist Rob Aguilar examines bottles containing preserved specimens of an astonishing array of different varieties of aquatic life."We have speckled swimming crabs, long finned squid, jackknife clam, ponderous arc," said Aguilar, scrutinizing a thick mussel with a serrated shell. "This is a fish-gill isopod. And this is a big marine leach that prefers to be on skates and rays."

Scientists Use Genetic Testing to Analyze Diet of Monster Blue Catfish

"Green" Maryland Company at Center of Polluting Biomass Industry

Last month, during an Earth Day event staged with timber industry executives at a school in Georgia, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump Administration would officially consider the clearcutting and burning of forests to be good for the climate.The administration declared that burning wood – or "biomass," as it's called in industry jargon – to generate electricity is "carbon neutral." Why? Because the carbon dioxide pollution that wood-fueled power plants release will allegedly be balanced out by the industry's replanting of trees. This "carbon neutral" designation means EPA will grant the rapidly-growing biomass industry exemptions from any future carbon dioxide pollution control rules.One of the biggest beneficiaries of the policy shift is a Bethesda, Maryland-based company called Enviva Biomass. Enviva is the world's largest producer of industrial wood pellets, and it owns manufacturing plants in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.

Interbreeding of Ravens Echoes Human Genetic History

Kevin Omland, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, stands below a highway overpass towering above a wooded stream valley in the Patapsco Valley State Park, just southwest of Baltimore.He aims his binoculars up at a scraggly nest of sticks that ravens built in the steel beams beneath Interstate 195. "Give yourself a second and you can see three young," Omland said. "They are hanging out there quite peacefully. Not flapping, maybe stretching a little bit." "Wow!" I replied. "Three large, black, sinister looking dudes sitting up on their nest under the bridge — kind of ominous.""Tom, you're squinting incorrectly. Those are beautiful creatures," Omland said. "They are going to have marvelous iridescent plumage in just a few days."

Next in Line to Run Trump EPA is Former Lobbyist for Coal Mining Company

Last week, this program discussed the spending and mismanagement scandals plaguing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and how they are increasing pressure on President Trump to fire EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.But if Pruitt goes, who is next in line to run EPA? The U.S. Senate recently held hearings to confirm EPA's new deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, who will automatically step up should his boss step down.Wheeler, an environmental lawyer from Ohio, emphasized his work as EPA attorney, from 1991 to 1995. "The environment today is cleaner than it has ever been in modern times," Wheeler said. "As a nation, we have made tremendous progress since the 1970's, and we have to build upon that progress."

Next in Line to Run Trump EPA is Former Lobbyist for Coal Mining Company

EPA Administrator Grilled Over Ethical Lapses and Regulatory Rollbacks

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared before a U.S. House committee to answer questions about several scandals that have marked his administration."Good morning, Administrator Pruitt, and welcome back to the environment subcommittee," said Congressman John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, chairman of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland, a Democrat, was among those who grilled the EPA Administrator. Pruitt is a former Oklahoma attorney general who works in close concert with his state's oil and gas industry to roll back environmental regulations that impact that industry."We've trying to keep up with the ethical lapses of the Trump Administration, and which I will tell you is kind of a full-time job," Sarbanes said. "And you certainly have been at the center of some of that focus. To date, five independent federal investigations have been initiated at this committee's request, and more than eight independent federal reviews."

EPA Administrator Grilled Over Ethical Lapses and Regulatory Rollbacks

Decline in MD Water Pollution Enforcement and Inspectors

The Maryland Department of the Environment recently released its annual report on the agency's efforts to enforce environmental laws in the state.Tim Wheeler, associate editor and editor for the Bay Journal, examined the state's water pollution enforcement numbers as part of his ongoing scrutiny of the bay cleanup.

Study Highlights Impact of Increased Rainfall from Climate Change

In a park in West Baltimore, a spectacular arched stone bridge rises over a stream called the Gwynns Falls, which flows into Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.Although the bridge is beautiful and trees beside the stream are blossoming, when you look at the stream, you see that the Gwynns Falls is troubled. A whirpool of sludge twists under the bridge, with a gyre of Styrofoam cups and plastic bottles.

MD Lawmakers Approve Bill to Discourage Offshore Drilling

At Midnight on Monday, the Maryland General Assembly's annual session ended with applause and a traditional Latin phrase for adjournment. "Sine die!" a state lawmaker called out, receiving loud and sustained applause in the senate chambers.

Trump Administration Report Disproves Trump Administration on Regulations

On Monday, the Trump Administration announced that it will be eliminating air pollution control standards for cars and trucks imposed six years ago that would have required a doubling in the fuel efficiency of vehicles by 2025.This could mean larger gas-guzzlers on our roads. The President's rationale for this and other recent regulatory rollbacks is his claim that environmental rules hurt the economy.

Trump Administration Report Disproves Trump Administration on Regulations

Mr. Trash Wheel Immortalized in Song as Baltimore Harbor's Hero

Mr. Trash Wheel is a water-driven trash-interceptor and collection machine that was installed four years ago at the mouth of the Jones Falls, where it empties into Baltimore's Inner Harbor.It was invented by Baltimore entrepreneur John Kellett and has succeeded in collecting more than 1.5 million pounds of garbage over the years. It has also collected a large social media following, with 30,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.Adam Lindquist is director of the healthy harbor initiative of the Waterfront Partnership, which owns Mr. Trash Wheel. I asked: are you planning another?Lindquist: "The fandom behind Mr. Trash Wheel has been so supportive. It actually allowed us to crowd fund a second trash wheel, which we installed in Canton in 2016. We call her Professor Trash Wheel. And right now, the Maryland Port Administration is in the process of installing a third trash wheel, which they call Captain Trash Wheel."

Chesapeake Bay as the Wellspring of American Culture and Identity

It was April 26, 1607. Three English ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, were sailing across the wind-swept Atlantic Ocean when their captain, Christopher Newport, saw the low-slung coast of the new world and entered the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.Newport, Captain John Smith and the other founders of the Jamestown colony, had not come for freedom. In that way, they were different than other English colonizers of North America: the Pilgrims, who landed farther north 13 years earlier and established the Plymouth colony. The Pilgrims were religious separatists who endured the alien landscape because they hungered for religious liberty.By contrast, Jamestown was established by the Virginia Company of London strictly as a for-profit business. The corporate mission was to find gold, as the Spanish did when they plundered the Aztecs almost a century earlier.

Green Day in Baltimore: Council Approves Bans on Crude Oil Terminals and Styrofoam

The Baltimore City Council on Monday approved two bills that environmental activists in the city had been fighting to advance for years.The first bans the construction or expansion of any crude oil terminals in the city. The goal of this legislation, which passed by a vote of 14-1 and now must be signed by the mayor, is to reduce the risk that trains carrying volatile crude oil could derail and explode in the city.The second bill outlaws a petroleum product: Styrofoam cups and fast-food containers, which do not break down in the environment like paper products, and so create a persistent source of litter, and a blight in streams and along roadsides.

Green Day in Baltimore: Council Approves Bans on Crude Oil Terminals and Styrofoam

After Scandal, Trump Administration Restores Funding to Bay Journal

For more than a quarter century, the Bay Journal has been a respected voice on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, funded in part through grants from the Environmental Protection Agency.Then last spring, the journal published stories about the Trump Administration's proposed deep cuts to EPA and how they would damage the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. In response, a political appointee in the Trump Administration decided that EPA's $325,000 annual payments to the Bay Journal would be abruptly terminated in the second year of a six-year contract.The Trump appointee, John Konkus, said: "the American people have major concerns with newspapers and the media," according to a report by Greenwire. And so Konkus, an EPA communications official who also works as a media consultant for Republican political campaigns, saw no reason for EPA to keep funding the Bay Journal.In a Senate committee hearing, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat, grilled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about what appeared to be a politically motivated attack on the freedom of the press.

Purchase of Utility Would Spark Natural Gas Pipeline Boom in Maryland

Next month, the Maryland Public Service Commission will vote on whether to allow a Canadian energy company to buy Washington Gas and Light, a public utility that has provided electricity and natural gas to customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland suburbs for more than a century.The proposed merger of AltaGas and Washington Gas is part of a trend across the country. Increasing numbers of locally-owned and controlled public utilities are being bought up by large corporate conglomerates based in distant headquarters, according to Paul Patterson, a utility industry analyst at Glenrock Associates in New York...

Purchase of Utility Would Spark Natural Gas Pipeline Boom in Maryland

MD Bill Would Trump EPA's Approval of Brain-Damaging Pesticide in the State

Chlorpyrifos is a common insecticide sprayed on fruits, vegetables and golf courses around the world since the 1960s, but increasingly linked by scientists to brain damage and developmental problems in children.

MD Bill Would Trump EPA's Approval of Brain-Damaging Pesticide in the State