Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Friday, May 5, 2023

Rockville bear sightings continue

The black bear wandering around Rockville the last few days likes it here, and it's sticking around. Rockville City police announced this morning that the bear was spotted last night on College Parkway, and in King Farm. Officers are currently searching for the bear with the assistance of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. You are asked to call the RCPD at 240-314-8900 as soon as possible if you see the bear.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Montgomery County now collecting durable medical equipment at Shady Grove Transfer Station

Do you have medical equipment you no longer need, and is just taking up space in your home? Now it can be put to use for less-fortunate residents in need of it. Montgomery County is now collecting durable medical equipment at the Shady Grove Transfer Station at 16101 Frederick Road (MD 355) in Derwood. "Gently-used" wheelchairs, canes, shower chairs, and other commonly-used medical equipment will be accepted, and will be refurbished and donated to residents who need it. The new initiative has been made possible by the Montgomery County Department of the Environment's entry into the Maryland Department of Aging’s Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Re-Use program.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

“There is an ongoing need for medical equipment in our County,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. “Many of us have medical equipment in our basements, garages or attics that is no longer used, but is too good to throw away. This program helps our County’s efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, while providing critical assistance to those in need. I encourage everyone to donate if they have any equipment that can still be used. This program isn’t just helping our planet—it is also helping our neighbors.”

Technicians from Maryland DME Re-Use take the donated equipment to a 56,000-square-foot facility located in Cheltenham in Prince George's County. There, it is sanitized, repaired and stored for future distribution. Equipment that is beyond repair will be broken down for parts that are saved and later used, rather than going into the trash.

To find out more about Maryland DME Re-Use, including collection site locations, acceptable donations or how to apply to receive durable medical equipment, go to, call 240-230-8000 or email

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Nordstrom reducing window displays "to lessen our environmental impact" at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda says it is increasing its efforts to be more environmentally-sensitive. One step it is now taking "to lessen our environmental impact" is to reduce the number of window displays. At one window inside the mall, trash is now part of the display. "This display was partially sourced from our store's recyclable waste," a sign explains. 

This is apparently such a new development that there has not even been any company-wide announcement or press release about it yet. The window display initiative does not appear on the chain's environmental sustainability webpage. It's certainly an unusual tack for an upscale department store.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Maryland "closely monitoring" air quality after toxic East Palestine, Ohio train derailment

Maryland Department of the Environment
air quality monitoring station

More than a few Maryland residents have been wondering if the toxic chemicals released into waterways and the air from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment might have any environmental or health impacts here. The Maryland Department of the Environment has been "closely monitoring the situation," MDE spokesperson Jay Apperson said Friday evening. Department officials have been focused on impacts from the air, as Apperson said the runoff into the Ohio River will not affect Maryland waterways.

There has been speculation online that pollution such as airborne particulates or acid rain caused by the derailment, and by the controversial clean-up effort of toxic substances from the train cars, could impact neighboring states. Some satellite images shared on social media depicting a plume cloud from the controlled burn-off of chemicals at the crash site showed it passing over Western Maryland at times. 

But Apperson said the state has so far found nothing of concern within our borders. MDE's air quality monitoring station in Garrett County "shows no effect on levels of gas or particulate matter" as of last night, he reported. "The department will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation," Apperson added.

Photo courtesy MDE

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Montgomery County Council natural gas ban already impacting real estate market

The recent floating of a ban on gas stoves by federal regulators caused an uproar nationwide, but the Montgomery County Council's 2022 actual ban on natural gas energy in future home and building construction is already making waves in the county's real estate market. In recent weeks, some for-sale signs in front of Montgomery County homes have added a new shingle underneath: "Natural Gas AVAILABLE." 

County homeowners fortunate to have a natural gas hookup, and the advantages and alternatives it provides, may now see a bump in their home values. Buyers dreaming of a true "chef's kitchen," showers that don't run cold just because the power is out, or a generator to keep everything on when electric power does go out, will have a static inventory of older properties to choose from.

Montgomery County's natural gas ban was an instructive moment in more ways than one. Of course, it reminds us all of how much the Council enjoys banning things. It's a cheap way to make news, look busy, and not have to spend much money in the process. All the costs fall on businesses and residents. 

Perhaps even more intriguing is the revelation of how County environmental policy often has less to do with actual impact on climate change (though those melting paper straws do add a unique new flavor to our beverages), and more to do with accomplishing hidden or corrupt goals, payoffs, power grabs and other short-term gains. Such is the epic tale of the rise and fall of natural gas in Montgomery County's "green" policy.

It wasn't that long ago that we were told natural gas was "clean energy." This just happened to coincide with fracking mania, which created whole boom towns in often-remote parts of America for a time. Brown drinking water and earthquakes? Merely minor side-effects of "clean energy."

Montgomery County's elected officials and local environmental advocates were all-in on natural gas at that time, as well.

Way back in 1996, Montgomery County purchased its first compressed natural gas Ride On buses. Montgomery County Council staff regularly have referred to these CNG buses as "clean bus technology."

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan touted the purchase of 19 more natural gas-powered Ride On buses in 2000, through a multi-agency agreement that included the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). "Through this agreement, we're helping to reduce traffic congestion and prevent pollution," Duncan said at the time. "The support of The Clean Alternative program has made it easier for the County to purchase low emission vehicles that reduce air pollution while lowering our fuel and maintenance costs."

Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari said that the purchase of these natural gas Ride On buses would "improve air quality and enhance the quality of life" of residents. Then-MWCOG Executive Director Michael Rogers said CNG Ride On buses were an "emerging strategy for improving air quality."

Sue Edwards of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission wrote that the CNG Ride On buses used natural gas as a "clean burning fuel." CNG was "a mechanism to meet air quality objectives," she stated. 

The most interesting endorsement of natural gas-powered Ride On buses came from Elliott Negin of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Montgomery County is showing the way for our region," Negin was quoted as saying in the press release announcing the natural gas bus purchase.

Two years later, Negin and the NRDC were even more enthused about natural gas. WMATA had announced the purchase of 250 new natural gas CNG buses for the Metrobus fleet.  "This is a great Earth Day present for the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia," Negin said in a joint press release with the Sierra Club(!!). "Expanding Metro's natural gas program and retiring its polluting diesel buses is clearly the best choice for our public health and environment. It also is the best choice for strengthening U.S. energy security, since we get nearly all of our natural gas from North America, and more than half of the oil we consume is imported."

After reading that, you might wonder if Negin's article in Greater Greater Washington last month was written by an imposter. 

"WMATA’s fleet is currently made up of diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which essentially run on methane, a potent global warming gas," Negin and co-authors Steve Banashek and Timothy Oberleiton wrote on December 7, 2022. "Diesel tailpipe emissions have been linked to cancer and heart disease, as well as premature death. CNG bus emissions have been linked to cardiovascular and neurological diseases." Well, so much for enhancing the quality of life!

"Emissions from both fuels cause smog, which exacerbates allergies and such lung conditions as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, a major problem in the District," Negin, et al continued. "Both types of fuel also pose a threat to the climate. In the greater Washington region, cars, trucks, buses, and other mobile sources account for a whopping 40% of annual global warming pollution. [CNG buses] spew toxic pollution. Their lifecycle global warming emissions, meanwhile, are on average only 6.4 percent lower than that of a diesel bus and, in many circumstances, are nearly the same due to widespread methane leaks and relatively poor fuel economy."

What a difference 20 years makes! Yet all of the properties of natural gas were known to scientists 20 years ago, when Negin, Montgomery County officials and countless other once-ardent promoters of natural gas were demanding Americans switch to that "clean energy" alternative. What's going on here?

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka attempted to backpedal on his gas stove ban musings last month, after everyone from annoyed chefs to political opponents of the Biden administration ran wild with the issue. Days later, Trumka quietly doubled down on his personal opposition to gas stoves in the back pages of The Washington Post

Looking at Montgomery County environmental "policy" this century, we have to ask, what will his position be twenty years from now?

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Rockville seeks permission to remove failed dam from historic property

The City of Rockville is seeking permission to remove a failed dam from the historic Glenview Farm property at 603 Edmonston Drive, which is home to Glenview Mansion and the Rockville Civic Center park. While the dam is no longer functioning properly, and cannot be replaced under today's federal and state environmental rules, it is considered a contributing resource to a historic site. For this reason, the Rockville Historic District Commission must determine if historic preservation of the dam structure is warranted.

Sitting across Croydon Creek, the dam was constructed in the 1920s when the site was a functioning farm. It created a reservoir that was used as a water source for cattle, and for the irrigation of crops. The original farmhouse is now part of Glenview Mansion. Rockville's Environmental Management Division would now like to execute a stream restoration project at the site, and it will require removal of the dam. Today, the dam is breached in two locations, and small chunks of it have been pushed by the currents of Croydon Creek downstream.

The design phase of the stream restoration project received funding from the Maryland State Highway Administration. That design process is now 90% complete. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has allocated $2,000,000 from its Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund for the actual construction of the project.

HDC commissioners will review the dam to determine if it can be removed or not at its October 20, 2022 meeting. City staff are recommending commissioners approve removal of the dam.

Photo/map courtesy City of Rockville

Friday, March 25, 2022

Rivian truck spotted at Rockville Rivian facility (Photos)

The parking lot at the new Rivian facility on Rockville Pike is usually empty, save for the flatbed trucks used to deliver the new electric pickup trucks to their owners. Trucks are picked up for delivery as quickly as they arrive here. But one of the fast-moving EV pickups was finally caught on-site yesterday. 

There was an intriguing sign on the dashboard, which instructs delivery drivers in capital letters to unbuckle the truck's seatbelt after loading. I can't find any explanation online for that, but it clearly must be important, and it would be interesting to know why. It's too early for Guardian Mode on this Rivian. 

The tonneau cover was closed over the pickup bed. I think this truck is in Launch Green. Has anyone seen a Limestone yet? I'm partial to Rivian Blue myself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Tower Companies activates largest solar grid in Rockville

The largest solar energy grid in the City of Rockville is now active. Real estate development firm The Tower Companies flipped the switch on its half megawatt solar PV canopy system at The Tower Building at 1101 Wootton Parkway yesterday. It will provide the same annual carbon offset value as 600 acres of forest, a positive in a county where forest and tree canopy are being clearcut at an aggressive pace.

The new parking lot grid will also supply a full fifth of the Tower Building's energy needs each year. In addition to the Prospect Solar-installed canopy, four electric vehicle charging stations were added. By June 2022, Tower will be generating almost 2 million kWh of on-site solar energy across its entire real estate portfolio, using approximately 4,000 solar panels.

The Tower Building in Rockville

"This is a great, innovative project that shows how Rockville businesses are contributing to clean, local renewable energy generation and helping our community meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals," Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said in a statement yesterday. "We are proud that our city is home to companies like Tower that share the values of our community and are taking proactive approaches to help us meet Rockville's climate action goals." She said the project aligns with the Mayor and Council's efforts on a Climate Action Plan for the city.

Tower Companies CEO Eric Posner on Tuesday touted the grid as not only good for the environment, but also a potential draw for climate-conscious tenants that other office building owners could emulate. "Tower is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to sustainability and contribute to local, state, and national climate action goals that will improve the lives of generations to come," Posner said. "We view this project as a smart investment that not only benefits the environment, but is also a real value-add for our office building tenants."

Photos courtesy The Tower Companies, Prospect Solar

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Rockville Town Square underground maintenance work explained!

I've received some more information from the City of Rockville about the mysterious underground work going on under the square at Rockville Town Square. It is related to the underground stormwater management system at the property. There is a sand filter located underneath the square.

Stormwater runoff from hard surfaces, parking lots and buildings at and nearby the Town Square is routed through pipes into that underground sand filter - water from nearly 10 acres of surfaces. The filter removes sediment and debris, and then discharges the treated water into Maryvale Park and Rock Creek.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Montgomery County-based JBG Smith announces it has achieved portfolio-wide carbon neutrality

4747 Bethesda Avenue lobby

JBG Smith
, a real estate development firm headquartered at 4747 Bethesda Avenue, announced this morning that it has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire operating portfolio of properties, which include several in Rockville. It accomplished this by purchasing verified carbon offsets for scope-one carbon emissions, and renewable energy credits (RECs) for scope-two electrical consumption.

Galvan development in Rockville

In order to maintain carbon neutral status in the coming years, the company said it will have to take further actions. Those actions will include:

1.       Driving down energy consumption across its existing portfolio

2.       Reducing anticipated energy consumption and embodied carbon for its development pipeline

3.       Deploying onsite solar where most impactful

4.       Exploring offsite solar opportunities and bringing additional renewables to the national electrical grid 

5.       Addressing the remainder of carbon emissions with verified carbon offsets and renewable energy credits (RECs)

7200 Wisconsin in Bethesda

“Achieving carbon neutrality across our operating portfolio provides JBG Smith with a strong and compelling competitive advantage," JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said in a statement. "Our office, residential, and retail customers increasingly demand this from their real estate space and service partners and our investors expect that we are doing all that we can to address this looming and critical threat, Our collective actions over the next decade are essential in offsetting the current carbon emission trajectory and, through sustainable best practices, JBG Smith remains committed to positively impacting the communities we serve at every level.”

Terano in Rockville

JBG Smith has developed, owns or manages many properties in Montgomery County, including the Trader Joe's-anchored 8001 Woodmont and 7200 Wisconsin in Bethesda, the Rock Grove shopping center in Shady Grove, and the Galvan and Terano in Rockville. Its most prominent venture is the Amazon HQ2 National Landing project in Arlington County, Virginia.

Rock Grove shopping center


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Hummer EV now available for pre-order at King GMC Buick in Rockville

The highly-anticipated Hummer EV electric truck is now available for pre-order at King GMC Buick, located at 16200 Frederick Road. It features a 300-350 mile range, depending on which model you choose. Advanced features include Ultravision navigation cameras, a power swing gate, and the ability for the truck to drive diagonally like a crab. The pickup model goes 0-60 in three seconds; the SUV version takes a half-second longer. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Montgomery County to rifle through residents' recycling bins with camera crews in tow

Montgomery County is experiencing a violent crime wave, but has defunded 27 police officer positions. The County was chastised last year for leaving 54 positions unfilled at its 911 call center, a failure that was highlighted by a 36 minute response time to a fatal drowning incident. Those are far from the only areas of government understaffed, as witnesses to the collapse of a rusted-out traffic signal pole in Bethesda this week can attest. But the County's Department of Environmental Protection appears to be well-staffed, as it will demonstrate this morning in Bethesda. 

According to a press release, DEP inspectors will go house-to-house in the neighborhood near Walt Whitman High School, and rifle through each resident's recycling bin. "Reporters and camera crews will be able to follow the inspectors" starting at 6:30 AM this morning, in what appears to be a massive violation of residents' privacy. This was clearly the wrong week to toss your unshredded sensitive documents or Playboy collection. Do you read the wrong newspaper, or drink too many boxed alcoholic beverages? We may find out this morning!

The "Oops Tag" program quietly began two months ago, the press release states. Inspectors have had the time and manpower to already sweep through those early-targeted neighborhoods "two to three times." Rummaging through residents' recycling bins, they have left a tag on those which contained items that cannot be recycled, identifying the ineligible items. Such ineligible items cost taxpayers approximately $750,000 in 2020, the press release says.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Rockville deer hunt to close parts of Civic Center Park

A managed deer hunt will temporarily close parts of Rockville's Civic Center Park at times over the next three months. The City of Rockville is launching a pilot archery deer-culling program in response to increased vehicular collisions with deer, and concerns about Lyme disease.

Parts of Civic Center Park and Croydon Creek Nature Center will be closed November 21-29, December 19-27, and January 9-16. The City says a survey showed Rockville parks currently host an average of 130-160 deer per square mile, while a healthy deer population is around 20 deer per square mile. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

America's largest crabapple tree would be relocated for redevelopment of Rockville office building

Tree designated "National Champion"
for its air and water purification
properties, height & circumference

UPDATE - July 21, 2020: The article has been updated to indicate that Montgomery County's assertion that a homeowner has agreed to accept the relocated tree is false; the homeowner has not even been contacted about the matter, much less agreed to accept the tree

A developer has proposed a plan to redevelop a one-story office building at 12500 Ardennes Avenue in the Twinbrook area of Rockville as a residential building. The property is directly adjacent to the City of Rockville, and is indeed partially surrounded by land within the city's jurisdiction, but falls under the planning authority of Montgomery County.

Developer Ardennes Partners, LLC is proposing a 203-unit residential building. It is requesting a 22% density bonus for affordable units it will include, and an additional 10% density bonus for workforce housing units. The project will be 198,718 SF in total, and 100' in height.

A national champion southern crabapple tree currently stands on the property (there are actually several mature trees on the site). It is the largest known southern crabapple tree in America, according to American Forests.

The developer has proposed relocating the tree to a "nearby" site on Vandegrift Avenue. That site is actually about four blocks away on the lawn of a private home, and is not visible from Twinbrook Parkway. However, the owner of the property Montgomery County claims would be accepting the tree tells me she has never given permission for the tree to be planted there, and that she has never even been approached by the developer or Montgomery County about the matter. There is currently a petition to stop relocation of the tree. Montgomery County Planning staff is proposing to require the applicant to be responsible for the survival of the tree at its new location for only five years.
Proposed site plan
A mostly-above-ground parking deck will hold 181 parking spaces. The site is a quarter-mile from the Twinbrook Metro station, and is allowed under Montgomery County rules to provide less than the minimum required parking spaces. An "urban plaza" will be constructed at the corner of Ardennes and Twinbrook Parkway.

It's unclear why the building could not have been configured to instead locate the plaza around the crabapple tree. The developer cites the need to grade the property, the need to construct a new sidewalk along Twinbrook Parkway, and Montgomery County's own demand that it dedicate right-of-way space along the parkway side to the County, as reasons the tree could not remain in place. Staff indicates in their report that the developer will be moving the tree at "considerable expense."

The Montgomery County Planning Board will review the proposed plan at its June 25 meeting. Planning staff is recommending approval of the plan, with conditions.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Montgomery Mall to add more electric vehicle chargers

Electric vehicle charger at a
Montgomery County Safeway store
Westfield Montgomery Mall is already a popular stop for Tesla owners, who can charge their electric vehicles at the mall's Tesla Supercharger station while dining, shopping, or watching a movie. Now Westfield is adding two more charging stations for other electric vehicles this year. Malls, grocery stores, retail properties and town centers have become popular locations to charge vehicles, as ownership of EVs widens.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

New scrap metal furnace proposed for Southlawn Lane in Rockville

The Maryland Department of Environment says it is poised to issue a construction permit for a new metal reclamation furnace at Montgomery Scrap Corporation, located at 15000 Southlawn Lane in Rockville. A US Furnaces MAX 4000SP Secondary Aluminium Sweat Furnace, it is rated at 5MMBtu/hr heat input, and will be fueled by natural gas or propane. MDE says it is a replacement for an existing furnace.

To request a public meeting regarding the air quality impacts of the furnace, residents or other concerned parties must write to MDE within 20 days of the department's February 18 announcement of the potential permit approval. Public comments on the proposed furnace can also be sent to the same mailing address (within 30 days, or 5 days after a hearing if one is requested), which is Ms. Shannon Heafey, Air Quality Permits Program, Air & Radiation Administration, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

Anyone who would like to review the application, draft permit, and other supporting documents, can request Docket # 03-19 at the Rockville Memorial Library at Rockville Town Square.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Tesla Supercharger station now online at Pike & Rose

A new Tesla Supercharger station has now been activated in the Trade Street garage at Pike & Rose. The Federal Realty property's garage was already doing its part for the environment with the largest solar canopy on a retail garage in the state of Maryland. Now multiple stalls are available on garage Level P6 for Tesla owners to recharge while shopping, dining, or taking in a movie at Pike & Rose.
This Supercharger site is also is one more dot on the nationwide network of Tesla charging stations, a network that surpasses any of the automotive company's electric rivals in the industry. Only one Tesla owner was taking advantage of the new Supercharger last evening, but expect that to increase as the word gets out. I look forward to plugging in my Cybertruck here someday.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Montgomery County stagnant or getting worse in all key areas, residents say

Montgomery County's elected officials haven't improved any major area of concern or crisis, residents say in a new County-operated survey. Vast majorities countywide say there has been no progress or improvement in the moribund County economy, Montgomery County Public Schools, traffic congestion, crime and public safety, quality of life or the environment in the last two years.
86% of residents say there has been no improvement in availability of affordable housing. 76% feel there has been no improvement in crime prevention and public safety. A whopping 87% found no improvement in traffic congestion over the last two years. In fact, it's getting worse.
63% of residents say there has been no improvement in MCPS, which has declined steadily over this decade, as test scores and graduation rates plummeted and an achievement gap worsened. Yep, that's getting worse, too. But rather than improve failing schools, the corrupt MoCo cartel is trying to ready a forced busing strategy that failed nationwide decades ago, and is preemptively calling those who favor neighborhood schools "racists" and "white supremacists" - terms regularly deployed as the nuclear option when one has lost a debate on the facts.
Montgomery County's stagnant economy reached rock bottom in the region this decade, and residents' opinions squarely reflect that reality. A powerful 69% of residents say there has been no improvement in job growth. 61% report no improvement in business growth. Montgomery County ranked at the bottom in the region on both measurements this decade.
Progressive and green Montgomery County is leading the nation in environmental policy, our elected officials assure us weekly. Mmm...not so much, counter Montgomery County residents. 68% of residents say the environment hasn't improved, or has gotten worse, since 2017. 66% responded that quality of life opportunities in the county - the arts, culture, recreation and libraries - have either not improved or have gotten worse.