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Volume 16, Issue 37 - September 11 - September 18, 2008
Maryland Parks Bag Plastic

Since Maryland State Parks went trash-free over a decade ago, they’ve been handing out bags for you to fill with all the litter you otherwise might be tempted to leave behind.

Now, under the cloud of global warming, plastic bags are themselves a trash issue. So this summer, Maryland state parks took the oil out of their bags. The new environmentally friendly trash-free bags are made of bio-plastics derived from renewable plants such as corn or tapioca. They decompose in six to 10 months; the lifespan of the conventional plastic bag is apparently limitless: experts estimate from 500 to thousands of years.

“When park visitors use these bags to remove trash from the parks, they are helping to ensure cleaner, healthier public lands for future generations,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

Charm City Cake Adds $700 to Jefferson Patterson’s Pot

Down on the Jefferson Patterson farm, tropical storm Hanna barely rustled the cornstalks. The Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum’s annual Affair at Point Farm benefit dinner and auction went off without power outage or downed trees — raising $25,000.

The 2008 Affair reflected the down-home feel of a southern Maryland country picnic with candle-lit lanterns, mason jars stuffed with wildflowers and red and white checkered tablecloths atop picnic tables. Quilts hung from the rafters inside the Park’s Pavilion, once a barn housing the Patterson’s prized Aberdeen Angus cattle.

A bucket of crabs set on a picnic table — complete with a can of Old Bay and crab mallet — looked like the real thing. But closer inspection revealed it as the much-anticipated confectionary creation from Charm City Cakes. Celebrity Chef Duff’s was, in the end, too awesome to slice. Instead it was put on the auction block, adding $700 to support archaeology and education programs at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.

–Margaret Tearman
Natural Gas Cuts a Wide Path

Bulldozers continue clear-cutting a path through Calvert County for Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Facility’s new second gas pipeline — despite a road bump in federal court.

The 47-mile pipeline is being constructed to deliver more natural gas from the gas-import docks at Cove Point on Chesapeake Bay to interstate pipeline connections in Virginia. It is scheduled to be completed by year’s end.

But on July 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did not give Washington Gas Light Company, the utility which delivers natural gas to customers in the District, Maryland and Virginia, adequate time to address safety concerns about potential gas leaks. Washington Gas claims the LNG from Cove Point damaged its distribution system. The court’s decision grants a review by the regulatory commission. It also puts a hold on when Dominion can begin service through the new pipeline.

“We have been working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resolve issues identified in the court order,” says Dominion spokesman Karl Neddenien.

Dominion is clearing a 50-foot-wide path along the new pipeline’s route. After construction is completed, the clearing will be reduced to 25 feet to allow for maintenance access and to discourage tree roots. Contrary to earlier concerns that Dominion would seize land for the new pipeline under power of eminent domain, it instead acquired easement rights from 283 property owners along the pipeline’s Maryland route. Landowners retained ownership — but not control — of land along the pipeline route.

–Margaret Tearman

Blanca’s Nose Knows

The nose knows when looking for bed bugs, those resurgent flat brown creatures lurking in the crevices of mattresses, waiting to feast on the blood of humans and animals. You can see scenting-sensation Blanca demonstrate her olfactory prowess, sniffing out bed bugs and mold, another bane to sound sleep, at the Mid Atlantic Food, Beverage & Lodging Expo, September 17 and 18, at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Blanca, who was rescued from death row at a Florida shelter, is the mascot and lead investigator for Canine Scent Investigators ( Blanca and her two-legged cohorts contend that dog-scenting is a more accurate and less expensive way to pinpoint even microscopic mold and infestation.

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