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Volume 15, Issue 24 ~ June 14 - June 20, 2007

Way Downstream

Around Maryland, low-income families get help with rising electric bills. Gov. Martin O’Malley added $5 million to the coffers of Electric Universal Service Program — which aids families who can’t pay for their electric bills — for a total of $57 million. Some 90,000 Maryland households qualify for assistance. Apply for help with energy bills: 800-332-6347 …

On the Web, you can see who gets all the government farm subsidies in Maryland, including city-slickers who have been able to hide them up to now, thanks to a new database assembled by the Environmental Working Group from U.S. Agriculture Department records. You can see, for instance, the identities of the farmers and landowners who reaped more than Maryland’s annual $60,339 average family income just in crop subsidies. Go to

In Annapolis, looks like the same old story this summer as far as dead zones in Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Program, the federal-state agency that oversees Bay restoration, last week predicted a recurrence this summer of the oxygen-poor waters in the mid-Bay, a condition so serious that fish and other creatures may not be able to survive. What’s causing it? Farm runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, leaky septic systems and folks who pour on chemicals to keep their lawns unnaturally green …

Down on the farm, you can prevent some of that runoff by signing up for Maryland Agriculture Department’s cover crop program. Registration began last week and runs through June 29, and $8 million will be passed out as incentives to plant crops such as barley, rye grass, oats and kale …

Our Creature Feature is a tale of rescue from faraway Indonesia about an animal we’d never heard of, the dusky pademelon, a rare species of kangaroo. The brownish-gray little leapers, about 30 inches tall and weighing 40 pounds, were being kept as pets after being purchased illegally at animal markets, Reuters reported. Police somehow found out who had bought them and rescued them from captivity.

Next stop for the pademelons are dense forests where they came from. But before their release, they must undergo what officials are calling rehabilitation.

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