Government support of “renewable” energy is stronger in the European Union than it is in the United States, and has contributed significantly to their economic problems. Struan Stevenson was a member of the European Parliament from Scotland, and is currently president of the European Parliament’s Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development Intergroup. He writes:

“Chambers Dictionary defines the word RAPE as meaning violation, despoiling or abuse. I believe that the current mad race for renewables is responsible for the rape of Britain. Wind turbines violate the principle of fairness by transferring vast amounts of money from the poor to the rich. They despoil our unique landscape and environment; and through noise, the flicker-effect and vibration, they abuse the health and welfare of people and animals which have to live near them.”

Apex Clean Energy is basically an investment bank set up to take advantage of government mandates and subsidies for “renewable” energy. Operating much like a house flipper, they obtain the permits needed to construct a wind or solar farm, collect the subsidies then sell the facilities to utilities who actually operate them. Users of the catastrophically expensive electric power pay the bill.

However, getting the permits is not easy, particularly if there is significant local opposition. Apex must obtain permission from dozens of agencies, ranging from the Kent County Department of Planning and Zoning to the Maryland Public Service Commission to the Federal Aviation Agency. Even if Apex succeeds in running this gauntlet, the project must survive challenges in State and Federal Courts.

Janet is an important member of Keep Kent Scenic an organization that was formed recently to coordinate efforts to oppose the Apex project. She will describe the Apex project, the permitting process, the current status of project, and what the future fight will look like.

 

The Cassinelli Vineyards include Chardonnay, Merlot, Vigonier, Sangiovese, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes produced on 13 acres of vines located on 110 acres of woods and rolling, open land. Those grapes have been used to produce seven award winning wines in the Maryland Governor‘s Cup competition, including a gold this year for their 2009 Merlot Reserve and two bronze medals for ‘09 Rose Barbera and Barbera Reserve.

Al is also planning to open Cassinelli Distilling, a craft distillery, on High Street in downtown Chestertown. They will be producing hand crafted brandy, rye, gin and grappa on site, and will have a wine / craft spirits bar at this location.

 

Among the important environmental issues affecting Kent County, Apex Clean Energy Holdings, LLC, has proposed to build an array of giant wind turbines near Kennedyville. Huge government subsidies are available for such projects. The investment bankers who are sponsoring the project and the farmers providing the land needed to site the turbines will be making a lot of money if they are allowed to proceed. The rest of us, on the other hand, will be adversely affected. However, Apex still needs regulatory approval. In particular, they will need zoning approval from Kent County, environmental permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and an order by the Public Service Commission to force an electric utility to buy the electricity produced by the turbines at a catastrophically high price and pass this excessive cost on to their consumers.

Another important environmental issues affecting the County is remediation of the leaking underground storage tank (LUST) at the hospital. Many years ago, the underground heating oil storage tank for the hospital in Chestertown was found to be leaking into the aquafer, endangering the town’s water supply. Millions of dollars was spent to install the equipment needed to protect the Town’s water supply: operating this equipment is very expensive. Much of this cost has been born by the hospital. Recently, the hospital has proposed using an unproven technology to save money by discontinuing current remediation efforts. Should the proposed experimental approach fail, the town’s water supply could be ruined and town’s water supply system will have to be replaced at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. The prospects of success of the experiment and who will pay the cost of its failure are unclear. Discontinuation of current remediation efforts must be approved by the University of Maryland (who ultimately controls the hospital), MDE and the Town of Chestertown.

At the moment, there seems to be little progress in resolving these issues to the satisfaction of all the important parties, and their disputes will probably have to be resolved by the Court of Special Appeals. There is no one in this world that knows more about these legal and regulatory challenges than Delegate Jacobs. This will be one of the timeliest and most informative meetings CBG has ever hosted.

 

Dr. Couch is leading efforts to make our school district one of the best school districts in Maryland. Her efforts to improve our schools have included the development of Professional Learning Communities to empower teachers through collegiality to effectively utilize student data to improve teaching and learning, providing high quality instructional materials to provide teachers with tools to achieve better learning outcomes, and making Digital Learning Environments and platforms available to students at every level.

 
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