(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Today, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced it is denying permits that a developer for Georgetown University had requested for a large solar energy project in Charles County.
Georgetown’s contractor Origis Energy had proposed clear-cutting about 240 acres of dense forest on the Nanjemoy Peninsula near La Plata to build the project.
Throughout the review process the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and many local and regional groups have been vocally opposed to it. The proposed site is next to a high-quality, environmentally sensitive stream—Ward’s Run—that drains into the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
Thick forests composed of diverse plants are among the best water filters on earth. The trees store carbon in their trunks, branches, and roots, which prevents carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere and hastening climate change.
CBF believes there are other, better sites where Georgetown University could build the project—such as on retired farmland, brownfields, rooftops, or parking lots.
CBF generally supports solar and other renewable energy projects, but not at the expense of high-value forest. In Maryland, we continue to lose forested land at a faster rate than we can replace it due to development and other pressures.
This project also generated significant opposition from CBF’s members with more than 2,500 of them submitting comments against the project to MDE.
In response to MDE’s decision, CBF Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued the following statement:
“We hope Maryland’s decision today will set a precedent that ensures we don’t have to choose between renewable energy and clean water. Georgetown University’s efforts to expand their use of solar energy is admirable, but clean energy should never require clearing high quality forests. We applaud the Department of the Environment’s decision to deny the permits.”