By Mike Tidwell
There has been some confusion recently about a proposed piece of legislation in Annapolis called the “black liquor bill” (HB 1102). Tragically, this bill came one vote shy of passing, even though it would have ended a huge loophole in state law forcing Maryland’s electricity ratepayers to give millions of dollars in subsidies to out-of-state paper mills that contribute nothing to the cleaner energy that Marylanders want.
environment instead of out-of-state polluters," the letter reads. It was signed by Tim Reardon of Pitcrew, Inc., Boe Walker of Boe's Strings, Mary Jean Clark of Voila in Frederick, Cindy Weingarten of Cafe Nola, Soren Dodge of The Record Exchange, April Reardon of Velvet Lounge and Pat Latkovski of Alicia L's.
By Steven Mufson
A measure before the Maryland legislature to roll back payments to paper companies burning a pulping residue known as “black liquor” failed by one vote in a state House committee Friday.
The bill, which passed the Maryland Senate by a bipartisan 33 to 13 vote, fell short of the 12 votes needed in the Economic Matters Committee — even after the bill’s sponsors agreed to guarantee continuing subsidies for Luke Mill, the one Maryland paper mill that was receiving the black-liquor payments.
By Tim Wheeler
Amended bill continues renewable energy subsidy for Luke Md mill
A phase-out of renewable energy subsidies for paper mills has cleared the Maryland Senate, though with a provision that guarantees the state's only paper plant in Allegany County would continue to receive payments underwritten by taxpayers.
Environmentalists hailed the 33-13 vote Thursday for SB684, which they said would close what they considered a major loophole in Maryland's renewable energy law. Currently, mostly out-of-state paper mills receive millions of dollars annually for powering their operations by burning "black liquor," a tarry byproduct of the pulping process, and other wood waste.
By IJ Chan
JMU students and Harrisonburg residents are joining the national fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.
The 2,147 mile long Keystone XL pipeline currently brings crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Midwest. A 1,700-mile long extension would carry the oil through to Texas. Many people nationwide are concerned that the installation of the pipeline would bring devastation to the environment by severely polluting the air, water and soil with excessive carbon emissions.
By Keith Laing
Environmentalists are unhappy with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)’s decision to retain a tax on hybrid vehicles in a transportation funding plan for the state.
McDonnell reduced the amount of the tax from $100 per year to $64, his office announced on Tuesday.
But the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) said he should have removed the entire tax.
“While Gov. McDonnell bent to public outcry and reduced the hybrid car tax, he should have vetoed it altogether, as thousands of Virginians urged,” CCAN Virginia State Director Beth Kemler said in a statement. “The hybrid tax remains an unfair and unreasonable policy. A $64 fee is just as arbitrary as the whole policy is to begin with.”
By Markus Schmidt
About a dozen climate-minded activists rallied outside Sen. Mark R. Warner’s Richmond office on Main Street on Monday, urging the Democrat to vote against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Warner recently told President Barack Obama that he supports the pipeline but hopes the project’s construction can be tethered to more effective energy efficiency policies.
By Tim Wheeler
A deal environmentalists thought had been worked out to stop mostly out-of-state paper mills from cashing in on Maryland's renewable energy law by burning so-called "black liquor" has come unglued. The state's only paper plant in Allegany County has backtracked on a pledge not to oppose the move in return for being allowed to keep collecting from the state's utility customers for another five years.
By Steven Mufson
A month ago, the manager of Luke paper mill in western Maryland pledged in writing to remain neutral on a bill in the state legislature that would curtail renewable energy payments to mills burning a residue called “black liquor.”
This week, he changed his mind.
The flip-flop irked key Maryland lawmakers, but the Luke mill manager was just one of a parade of people from the American Forest and Paper Association, the United Steelworkers and Dominion Resources who opposed the bill in hearings in Annapolis on Tuesday and Thursday.
By Steven Mufson
When Maryland and the District set floors requiring electric utilities to use increasing amounts of renewable energy, environmentalists cheered the prospect of money going to new solar and wind projects.
But today, several years after the legislation went into effect, it has had an unexpected outcome.
Thanks to a wrinkle in the definition of renewable, the lion’s share of the money used to meet those standards is flowing to paper companies that burn “black liquor,” a byproduct of the wood-pulping process. Paper mills have been using black liquor to generate most of their power needs since the 1930s.