MDE secretary addresses air pollution issues

Bill Matuszeski’s “Notes From Bayside” column in your March edition accurately pointed out that air emissions are a significant source of the nitrogen which is so damaging to Chesapeake Bay water quality. The effects of air pollution on the Bay and the need to address air pollution as part of the Bay cleanup have been overlooked until recently. Matuszeski’s column goes on to explain how reductions in nitrogen emissions required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 will help the Bay as well as the air.

However, there were some inaccuracies in the column which I would like to correct.

First, the column implies that atmospheric deposition to the near shore coastal ocean is a major source of nitrogen entering the Bay. While some nitrogen enters the Bay from the ocean, much more flows from the Chesapeake to the Atlantic. The Bay-ocean exchange of nitrogen results in a net loss of nitrogen from the Bay.

Second, some nitrogen reduction programs called for in the Clean Air Act are already in place. Nitrogen is a key ingredient in ground-level ozone and acid rain. As a result of federal requirements, regulations are now in place in many states requiring specific nitrogen reductions by May 1995. Additional reductions will probably be required in the Bay region based on the results of an urban airshed model that will help states determine reductions of precursor pollutants (volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides) needed to attain the ambient health standard for ozone. These nitrogen reductions will be required from factories, power plants, and mobile sources such as cars. States which fail to meet the Clean Air Act deadlines are subject to sanctions, including the loss of federal highway funds.

With respect to enhanced inspection and maintenance for motor vehicles, West Virginia is not required to institute such a program and has no plans to do so. All other states in the Bay watershed must institute enhanced inspection and maintenance programs as part of their effort to meet federal air quality standards. These programs are in various stages of development, with implementation to begin in most cases in 1995.

Finally, the Ozone Transport Commission voted on February 1 to recommend that the EPA develop a low emissions vehicle program for the Ozone Transport Region, which encompasses the area from northern Virginia to Maine. We hope that the outcome of this recommendation will be a cost-effective clean car program that will provide meaningful reductions in nitrogen emissions. These reductions will benefit both the Bay and the air.

Thank you for the opportunity to clear up some of these issues, and good work in getting the message out about the effects of air pollution and the Clean Air Act on our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

David A.C. Carroll
Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment

Energy efficiency pays off for county

It was a pleasure to read the Bay Journal’s recent article on the EPA’s energy efficiency programs — Green Lights, Energy Star Buildings and Energy Star Computers. Prince George’s County proudly participates in the EPA’s Green Lights program. In fact, Prince George’s County was the first county in the state of Maryland to join Green Lights.

Just as the Green Lights program has saved businesses like American Express, Boeing, and Mobil energy costs, Prince George’s County anticipates a savings of more than $167,000 in its first year. Even more exciting is that the project will pay for itself after the first full year of operation. Thereafter, every dollar saved is a dollar earned!

Prince George’s County has always been a leader on environmental policies — our recycling program is No. 1 in the state of Maryland. I fully support our involvement in these environmental programs and encourage other jurisdictions to participate in energy efficiency programs. You have my best wishes for the continued success of the Bay Journal.

Parris N. Glendening
County Executive for Prince George’s County