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Attorney General Frosh has joined Attorneys General from across the nation to announce an unprecedented coalition of top law enforcement officials who pledged to aggressively protect and build upon the progress the United States has made in combatting climate change. In announcing the Coalition, the group was joined by former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the importance of continuing progress on climate change efforts. The participating states are working together on initiatives such as ongoing reviews into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors, and on the impact of climate change on businesses and community health.
Attorney General Frosh has joined 16 other states, the District of Columbia and some of the nation's largest cities in support of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions from power plants. With rising sea levels claiming islands in the Chesapeake Bay, and extreme weather events threatening neighborhoods, homes and our natural resources, climate change poses an existential threat to Maryland, says the Attorney General. The plan would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030, and increase the proportion of power generated by renewable sources (such as wind and solar) to 21 percent, up from 12 percent.
Attorney General Frosh in March 2015 announced his strong opposition to drilling in the Atlantic Region's Outer Continental Shelf, and called on the federal government to halt the plan that would open coastal waters to oil and gas exploration. In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Frosh said that Maryland's natural resources would be degraded at every step in what he called an unnecessary and unwise process of exploring for oil and gas. Each phase of exploration carries needless risks, from the testing and drilling needed to locate deposits, to the damage done during extraction and transport of fuels, not to mention the inevitable spills that occur. Many segments of Maryland's economy would be placed at risk from the proposal - from the $4 billion mid-Atlantic fisheries industry to the $1 billion in tourism spending in Ocean City and Worcester County. In March 2016, the federal government withdrew its plans to allow the drilling.
The Office of the Attorney General supported the EPA against a challenge by the American Farm Bureau to the EPA's Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan. The "pollution diet" established by the EPA requires all local and state governments in the Bay watershed to develop plans to limit nitrogen, phosphorous, run-off and other pollutants, is based on the best available science, and is our best chance to make real progress in bringing back Bay grasses, oysters, crabs and water quality in our precious but imperiled estuary. The Plan was upheld by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court declined to review the plan.
The Office of the Attorney General helped obtain a consent decree settling a lawsuit filed by environmental organizations and joined by the Maryland Department of the Environment over millions of pounds of pollution being dumped into the Potomac River from a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) water filtration plant. The consent decree will lead to a multi-million dollar overhaul or replacement of the Potomac Water Filtration Plant, eliminate approximately 2 million pounds of sediment, aluminum and other pollutants discharged to the river annually between 2016 and 2019, and approximately 3 million pounds a year afterward. The settlement is a result of legal action launched in February 2014 by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Integrity Project and the Potomac Riverkeeper, and joined later by the Maryland Department of the Environment. It requires WSSC to pay a $100,000 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the facility's discharge permit. In this case, vigilant advocates and government regulators responsible for protecting our precious natural resources worked together to benefit Marylanders.
The Office of the Attorney General participated in the negotiation of a settlement with the company hired for the demolition of the former Sparrows Point steelmaking facility, which,along with the former owner of the Baltimore County steel mill property, are to undertake more than $3 million in projects to benefit the environment. The agreement settles alleged violations of state environmental laws during demolition activities at the site, and includes a payment of $1.5 million. Of that, $375,000 is to be paid in cash by HRE Sparrows Point LLC, former owner of the above-ground facilities at the site. The remaining $1.125 million is to be offset by one or more environmental projects commissioned by Sparrows Point LLC, the former owner of the real estate that was home to the steel mill, and MCM Management Corporation, the company contracted for demolition and removal activities. Inspections of the property by the Maryland Department of the Environment in 2013 and 2014 found that Storm Water Pollution Plans that had been submitted were not being fully implemented, that the controls in place were not adequate to protect stormwater from contamination from ongoing activities and that pollutants were placed in positions where they were likely to pollute waters, among other violations.
The Office of the Attorney General is representing the State in pursuing claims against petroleum manufacturers who used a chemical additive—methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)—that has contaminated groundwater throughout Maryland. The Environmental Protection Agency considers MTBE a suspected carcinogen.
The Office of the Attorney General is working with about 45 other states in asserting each state's respective environmental enforcement claims against Volkswagen for its installation of software in certain of its diesel model passenger cars that was designed to circumvent federal and state emissions standards.
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