SHA Crews Out in Force; Motorists Urged to Use Extreme Caution
The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration is out in full force performing salting operations and plowing snow from interstates and highways. Pavement and air temperatures are well below freezing dropping into the low 20’s and teens, and snow continues to fall at a heavy rate.
“What was originally forecast as a storm aiming for only Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore has grown into a statewide storm. We are urging Marylanders everywhere to reconsider travel plans and stay home to allow crews access to plow and salt roadways. If motorists must travel, it is imperative to use extreme caution and plan plenty of extra driving time,” said Neil J. Pedersen, SHA Administrator. “SHA crews will continue to treat the roadways through the night to reach bare pavement as soon as possible.”
The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.
The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama’s dealings with Iran. He is warning that his diplomatic outreach will now be combined with the “consequences,” as he put it in the State of the Union address, of the country’s continued defiance on its nuclear program. The administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Western nations say controls the military side of the nuclear program.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 29, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley announced today the launch of an online, interactive map that outlines many of the major Capital Budget projects for FY11. The Capital Budget, totaling more than $3.2 billion in FY11, invests in infrastructure projects, public schools, environmental projects and others. Nearly one third of the FY11 Capital Budget is dedicated to education projects.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed state public health and environmental officials Friday to visit Kettleman City to conduct “a thorough investigation” into the causes of birth defects in the San Joaquin Valley farming community.
Schwarzenegger’s intercession comes more than a year after activists petitioned state agencies to investigate whether a large toxic dump near the community might be causing cleft palates and other defects among the mostly low-income Latino residents.
Earlier this week, Jared Blumenfeld, the regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, launched a federal inquiry, calling the situation “a human tragedy at a scale . . . none of us would want to have to endure.”
Related thread: EPA to investigate cluster of birth defects in Kettleman City, Calif
Board Docs - Charles County Commissioners’ Meeting - TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2010
1.06 [1:30 p.m.] Briefing: Department of Utilities Safety Inspection (Mr. Bill Shreve, Director/Ms. Joane Gulvas, Safety Officer)
President Obama, who called for a “new generation” of nuclear power plants in his State of the Union address Wednesday, is quickly moving forward. He created a panel Friday to recommend ways to dispose of used nuclear fuel and is expected Monday to propose tripling loan guarantees for new plant construction.
His call for new nuclear power plants has angered some environmentalists and Democratic supporters, as noted in a prior post, but welcomed by nuclear industry lobbyists, including former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, now co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition.
Currently, 104 commercial nuclear power plants provide 20% of U.S. electricity, according to the Department of Energy. They produce no carbon emissions, but their operation and used nuclear fuel raise safety questions.
Some members of Commissioner Larry Jarboe’s Republican Town Hall Alliance slate and others expressed concern Tuesday night at the St. Mary’s County commissioners’ public forum about rezoning 620 acres in Hillville to industrial use.
The change is pending with the update of the comprehensive land-use plan. The property was the site of a munitions factory in the 1950s and current zoning would allow a limited number of homes.
Developer Paul Facchina made the request for industrial zoning.
Steve Riley of Hillville said rezoning the site “doesn’t pass the smell test. This simply stinks.” It’s not up to the commissioners to see that a property owner gets a return on an investment, he said. “Industrially zoned property can be used for almost anything,” even a landfill, he said. “It gets right to the heart of quality of life … and we’re about to lose that.”
Aim is to avoid ‘Waldorf effect’
Taking another look at maps of Mechanicsville, the St. Mary’s County commissioners this week agreed to put most of the lands on the east side of Route 5 into the rural preservation district, but left a chunk of 63 acres on that side for higher residential use.
The old village of Mechanicsville and surrounding development are on the west side of the highway. The planning commission and support staff recommended taking the east side of the road out of the town center to avoid traffic and visual problems — “a Waldorf effect,” said Derick Berlage, director of land use and growth management.
If the University System of Maryland’s budget must be cut in midyear, as it has been the past two years, state officials say those reductions won’t tap students’ tuition.
“That hasn’t happened in the last three years,” said Shaun Adamec, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s press secretary. “I would unequivocally say that is not in the playbook.”
Warren Deschenaux, director of the state’s Legislative Services Office of Policy Analysis, agreed, saying the possibility is “very remote” and “vanishingly small.”
Long-time Maryland senator for District 29, Roy P. Dyson, D-Great Mills, faces a new challenge in the coming 2010 election from Republican Steve Waugh. Waugh plans to officially kick off his campaign this coming Wednesday in California, Md.
According to his campaign website, Waugh is a retired Marine Corp Aviator and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Waugh works at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he manages advanced engineering programs. He is also a native Marylander, having been born in Annapolis.
Board Docs - Charles County Commissioners’ Meeting - TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2010
1.05 [12:45 p.m.] Presentation: State of the College (Dr. Bradley Gottfried, President, College of Southern Maryland)
When we first heard of the PATH project some years ago, it was being touted as absolutely necessary to ensure that adequate power would be available in the region. Without PATH, it was warned, power problems such as brownouts might begin to appear as early as 2014. Under that scenario, PATH’s creators, Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power, indicated that the project needed to get a quick green light so that construction could begin.
PATH is not just another run-of-the-mill transmission line. It’s 275 miles long, its huge towers would traverse sections of three states, and its terminus would be an enormous substation slated for a parcel off Bartholows Road near Mount Airy . Its cost is estimated at $1.8 billion, of which a 14.3 percent return on investment is guaranteed by the regional power authority PJM.
All those considerations might not, in and of themselves, be a legitimate reason to say no to this project, at least for now. But something else may be—whether or not it is as critical to the region’s power needs as it was originally billed.
The Obama administration announced the sale Friday of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems, helicopters, mine-sweeping ships and communications equipment to Taiwan in a long-expected move that sparked an angry protest from China.
In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, China’s Defense Ministry suspended military exchanges with the United States and summoned the U.S. defense attache to lodge a “solemn protest” over the sale, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
“Considering the severe harm and odious effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits,” Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying. The Foreign Ministry said China also would put sanctions on U.S. companies supplying the equipment.
I have read with interest the articles about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concerns for the Mattawoman Creek and its watershed “considered the Chesapeake’s most productive nursery” for several types of fish, contrasted against Charles County’s desires for planned residential developments.
As a resident of Calvert County, the clash of philosophies is so sharp that I am moved to write to you. Beginning in 1987 concerned private citizens took actions to preserve land through the American Chestnut Land Trust in Calvert County. More than 3,000 acres of land is now enrolled in a series of donated conservation easements, providing a second layer of permanent protection of the “scenic, cultural, rural, agricultural, woodland and wetlands property.” The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Rural Legacy Program are partners with ACLT to protect lands embracing Parkers Creek on the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay.
They have a fraction of the money. They’re hardly household names. But two relative unknowns have decided to take on Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley this fall.
And they just might have a chance.
For now, the campaigns of Democrat George Owings III and Republican Larry Hogan might be overshadowed by speculation about the potential candidacy of former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. But they have been quietly reaching out to discontented voters across the state at a time when stalled health care reform, unemployment and a lost U.S. Senate seat have made Democrats vulnerable.