Category Archives: Environment

Guest Post

By: David O. Rickards Every citizen deserves to be able to fish, crab, and swim in our waterways Is your community impacted by polluted ponds, rivers, or streams? There is a highly ignored aquatic plant that has the ability to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from our drainage systems. This would lower the pollution entering and therefore improve the health of our bays and waterways. In 2012, a National Science Foundation (NSF) study proved that the common aquatic plant, duckweed, can reduce the nutrients responsible for the poor quality of our waterways. The NSF SBIR grant is available on the internet at and will better explain the study. Birdsong Gardens was the subcontractor for this grant. We placed 1,900 gallons of water from the Millsboro pond into a lined 8X8X4 pit and were able to reduce the phosphorus level to zero in less than one Read more

Delaware Bans Offshore Drilling

Governor John Carney, last Thursday, signed into law two measures, effectively banning offshore drilling for petroleum and natural gas in Delaware’s Coastal Zone and coastal waters. Senate Bill 200 prohibits drilling for oil or natural gas in Delaware’s coastal zone and territorial waters and precludes DNREC from issuing any permits in connection with the development of offshore drilling infrastructure, whether proposed for Delaware territorial waters or waters outside of the State. Its companion measure, Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 207, opposes O&G drilling off Delaware’s coast and directs appropriate state agencies and officials to enforce Delaware’s rights in matters of offshore drilling under state and federal environmental laws. The measures had wide bipartisan support, largely for reasons of potential environmental and economic impact that a major offshore Read more

Sussex BOA Removes Condition on Allen Harim Plant

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In response to Allen Harim’s appeal of a earlier condition of approval of Allen Harim, LLC’s application for approval a poultry deboning operation at the former Vlasic Pickle plant near Millsboro, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment voted to remove its previous condition that all properly permitted on-site wastewater facilities be in place before the plant was allowed to operate. Instead, it now permits plant operation subject to legally permitted trucking of wastewater to off-site treatment, much to the consternation of local residents,last Monday night. The BOA also reiterated its standing general position that it does not have the power or inclination to make environmental or public health decisions in its deliberations. In an August 20 appeal to the BOA, an attorney for the multimillion-dollar South Korean owned corporation claimed that Read more

Improving Delmarva’s Water Quality

David Rickards, President and CEO of Birdsong Gardens offers an economically profitable and sustainable solution to the problem of Delmarva's deteriorated water quality. Duckweed ( Lemna minor) has been commonly treated as a rapidly growing nuisance aquatic plant to be disposed of . Generally, duckweed is controlled with copper algicide compounds, having negative impact on fish and other aquatic and estaurine life with a net deterioration of the natural biota. However, controlled harvesting and processing of lemna minor can yield useful and profitable commercial products with significant reduction in both nutrient and toxic water pollution in natural waterways and man made holding facilities. A specific example is given for Allen Harim's proposed deboning plant near Millsboro, DE: 1) Allen Harim has 1,200 acres planned for spray field irrigation (@43,560 square feet/acre). 2) Read more

Sussex BoA Tables Allen Harim Decision

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Sussex County Board of Adjustment, last Monday night, unanimously tabled a decision on Allen Harim LLC's request to change the condition of approval regarding wastewater treatment at its storage facility near Millsboro. Fifteen persons present registered their opposition, while no one besides the applicant registered support. Located between Iron Branch Road and Pinnacle Way near Millsboro, the former Vlasic pickle plant is the subject of major local controversy due to its adverse environmental impact on water quality including nutrient loading of the Indian River watershed and toxic contamination of nearby residential well water. In 2013, Allen Harim proposed building a major poultry processing plant on its 107-acre brownfield site, that would have drawn an estimated 2.5 million gallons of groundwater per day, but abandoned its original Read more

Proposed Water TAX Resurfaces

Apparently, Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s proposal to impose a water TAX , or “fee” on Delaware property owners has resurfaced. It was first revealed in his 2014 State of the State Address. It was subsequently incorporated in the Governor’s Clean Water for Delaware's Future Initiative. On Thursday, November 19, 2015, a draft of the Clean Water for Delaware Act was distributed and discussed at a Clean Water and Flood Abatement Task Force meeting. The official purpose of the proposed legislation is to provide the State of Delaware with a new revenue stream to raise Delaware’s natural and drinking water quality levels. According to the latest USEPA’s 303-(d) list, 90% of Delaware’s natural waterways are impaired as they fail to meet their designated uses for swimming, fishing and drinking. Under the proposed "Clean Water for Delaware Fee", Delaware residential property Read more

Hydrokinetics for the First State

COMMENTARY By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In response to the Governor’s 10/2/15 weekly message on “Combating Climate Change While Growing our Economy”, there is another practical, economical and environmentally compatible energy source currently available, i.e.: HYDROKINTETICS. In-line hydrokinetics differs from traditional hydroelectric generation as it does not require dams or natural waterfalls – only water flow at 4.2 Knots or greater and has in contrast, an extremely low environmental impact throughout its life cycle. Furthermore, it can produce electricity with zero GHG emission cheaper than a conventional coal-fired power plant. [Photo: UEK Corporation] The idea was first publically introduced in Delaware during a public meeting regarding a proposed Indian River Inlet power generation project in Ocean View in 1993. The Indian River Inlet is the second fastest Read more

Does the Animas River Spill Show EPA Has Lost Its Focus?

We all know that that while inspecting a containment pond of toxic mining chemicals that EPA inspectors caused a spill of 3 million gallons of Arsenic and Lead tainted water into the Animas River in Colorado which eventually polluted the water supply of 3 states. Accidents happen. What was most disturbing was the lack of a coherent response. There was no containment. The unspoken strategy seemed to be close down the rivers and let them naturally purge themselves. Imagine if private industry suggested that. The EPA director was slow to make it out to Colorado and never went to the original site. Imagine the press if the FEMA director behaved the same way. The EPA has become more focused on the exotic and less on the practical. The EPA budget has been cut by 555 million dollars in the clean water area, but the administration increased it in the area of fighting "global climate Read more

Governor Markell Signs Locomotive Idling Regulation Bill

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Delaware Governor, Jack Markell, has signed SB-135, a bill aimed at restricting nonessential locomotive idling into law, earlier this afternoon.

The Governor’s Press Secretary, Kelly M. Bachman, confirmred that the bill was enacted, but was not at liberty to comment further in light of Norfolk Southern’s federal challenge to the jursitiction, intent, scope and effect of the legislation.

Norfolk and Southern, a major interstate Class I railroad serving large portions of the South, Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S., filed an acclelerated motion for declaratory judgement with the US Surface Transportation Board on August 4, 2015 contending that state and local regulations of raiload operations are explicitly precluded by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA).

Norfolk Southern Opposes SB-135

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In light of increased rail shipments of Canadian crude oil to the Delaware City refinery, the Delaware General Assembly has passed SB 135, designed to limit “non-essential” locomotive idling between the hours of 8pm and 7am. Fines would range from $5,000 to $10,000 for a first offense, with $10,000 to $20,000 fines for repeat violations. It is not clear to what degree that the statute would actually be enforced if Governor Jack Markell signs it into law. The controversy pits the quality-of-life interests of nearby residents against the interests of Delaware’s railroads and petroleum industry in the greater context of economic and environmental concerns. Additionally, a complex legal technicality has emerged : EPA/federal preemption of state regulation of locomotive environmental impact, largely due to the interstate nature of railroads and Read more

Rosedale Pier Repairs Completed

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has announced completion of scheduled repairs of Rosedale Pier, a popular public boat ramp adjacent to Gull Point near Millsboro, in time for the Fourth of July weekend. The repairs included replacement of deteriorating wooden floating docks with aluminum floating docks and fill-in of a major hole at the end of the concrete ramp that made boat retrieval difficult at times. BEFORE: Rosedale Pier in Need of Repair[photo: Wolf von Baumgart] AFTER: Rosedale Pier Upgraded [Photo: DNREC] The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, in a public effort to prolong the integrity of the facility, urges boaters not to engage in the practice of power loading boats on trailers, as large holes in the bottom are readily created in this manner, necessitating further maintenance at public Read more

Boaters Await Repairs to Rosedale Pier

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer DNREC Notice [photo: Wolf von Baumgart] According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Fish and Wildlife, repairs to the floating dock at Rosedale Pier, near Millsboro and Long Neck are scheduled for June 15. The facility is a convenient boating access point to the Indian River Bay and upper tributaries. Addiional information is available at: WWW.FB.DELAWARE.GOV and WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/DELAWAREFISHWILDLIFE DP will update mariners accordingly. Rosedale Pier F&W Access Area [photo: Wolf von Baumgart] Read more

Finnish Defense Ministry Pledges Sustainable Development Program

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Finnish Defense Ministry has pledged to implement a program of sustainable development in its planning and operations as part of a broader long term national program, documented in "The Finland We Want by 2050". “We have pledged to sustainable development with several measures and one is our aim at decreasing energy consumption in the premises by 20 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2020”, said Planning Officer, Sami Heikkilä. The Defense Ministry program is aimed at reducing environmental damage resulting from training exercises and regular operations, facilities construction, as well as materials, energy and waste management (including increased utilization of renewable energy sources). Upon further inquiry, it was revealed that the plan currently did not mention hydrokinetics as a possible energy Read more

Profitable Alternative Polution Control For Delaware’s Inland Bays

Guest Post By: David O. Rickards Duckweed is an aquatic floating plant which is native, fast growing, and should be an essential part of any comprehensive plan to lower nutrients from reaching our inland bays. If our drainage system were used appropriately we would be able to lower pollution enough to allow the colonization of freshwater mussels. Pollution has reduced the number of these important filtering animals by over 90%. Each adult mussel is capable of filtering between 5 and 15 gallons of water daily; therefore a bed of 500 thousand would be equivalent to having a small wastewater treatment plant in that drainage system. Sussex's drainage system connects to several rivers such as the Pocomoke, the Indian River and St. Martins. These major ditches need to be used in order to reduce non-point source pollution from reaching our bays. Birdsong Gardens was a subcontractor for Read more

Sea Rise Awareness Week

This annual event should be the last week of October because it is when they try to scare us for no good reason. At least this week, the theme is actually positive. They want to adapt to sea rise with green solutions. Reestablishing a natural and living shoreline to form barriers against ocean intrusion is something that we can all get behind. In the long run, the only way the successfully fight nature is with nature. The best way to beat it is to join it. Combining technology with natural science gives us the best chance to get flood protection whether or not there is sustained ocean rising. Over the last hundred years, we have tried to fight the oceans, but the oceans will always win. It is better to guide the oceans then at least we will win, at least longer than it matters to us or our grandchildren's children. If the Department of Natural Resources would abandon its scaremongering Read more

UN Doubles Down on Global Warming

It is now 95% certain that 50% of global climate change is man made. In the meantime, the Arctic Ice returns and Antarctic Ice hits a 35 year high. “Why would sea ice be increasing? Although the rate of increase is small, it is a puzzle to scientists stated the Washington Post blog. At a time when Chinese and Russian scientists produce devastating rebuttals to the UN "Consensus". Most people agree that we are contributing to climate change to some degree, but is that bad? The results are delaying a new cooling cycle, increased crop yields, and a generally more livable planet with higher life expectancy and less human suffering. There are natural forces that matter far more than what we contribute, but acknowledging that does not give power to the Fabian Eco Socialists to impoverish and control us. Read more

Environmentalist Frenzy Has Mediocre Showing

Environmental groups are finding out that mindlessly opposing jobs, domestic energy, and safety doesn't fire up mobs of people.  An estimated 35,000 showed up to a D. C. rally to oppose the popular Keystone Pipeline. Environmental groups are in search of a mission.  Their success in the 1970's benefited all Americans now like the BRAC Commission of the 1980's, they are in search of a mission because just safeguarding their successes doesn't pay the salaries and raise money well enough.  They have to find threats under every potential of progress.  That is a shame. Environmental groups could become innovative and help us to move to the next phase.  We need better energy sources.  I believe the key is to rally behind safe, clean, and effective storage of energy.  We need, for lack of a better term, the better battery.  We need massive energy storage.  This will make renewable Read more

Bloomberg At It Again

NYC has to be paradise on earth because its mayor has nothing to do. Mayor Bloomberg, the Arch-Bishop of the Nanny State Tri-State Dioceses, has a new proposal. He wants to ban plastic food wrapping in restaurants, schools,and hospitals. In his final State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will propose a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging, a non-biodegradable polymer environmentalists have derided for years. As reported by The New York Times, the ban will include takeout boxes, cups and trays, forcing restaurants and bodegas to restock. I think Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make an impact, but it's going to hurt the economy ultimately," said Jamar White, owner of Buffalo Boss on Fulton Street. "He's imposing, I think, an unfair burden on small business like myself who depend on inexpensive packaging that can do the job," White continued. "I understand it's a great Read more

Can’t bash the U. S. Anymore

It appears that while most nations have been missing the Kyoto targets for Greenhouse gas emissions, the U. S. is pretty close to meeting them without government regulations. China is now easily the world's largest emitter of so called greenhouse gasses, I guess the America haters will have to find a new whipping boy. The main reason for this drop is natural gas. Will this cause the environmentalists to rethink the pipeline and kneejerk opposition to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking"? The amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it Read more

Solar Park

1.5 million dollar to the cause of green energy. One of the interesting points that the media did not pick up was my questioning of how much the White Oak Solar Park cost Dover rate payers. We spend about $128,000 just on a give away for the credits (SREC's) and we have to buy all of the energy produced at what has become a premium for the next 20 years. Even worse is the rates are guaranteed to go up. In a couple of more years, we will be paying 2 million for the same energy. Even worse there is another one waiting in the wings that is even bigger. I toured the site in an effort to educate me on why I needed to support it. I am for solar or other energy. I am not for the tax and rate payer being hosed. I know anyone who questions these priorities over safe streets, affordable utilities, an economic development strategy, low taxes, or youth programs, is a Luddite. If we do not Read more

Your Tax Money at Work (Again)

EPA to the rescue of the world. The Climate Change crowd is busy. They seem to have endless access to your money regardless of the facts. I discovered that the EPA has Climate Ready Water Utilities Tool Kits.  Read Below. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its Climate Ready Water Utilities Toolbox, which provides access to more than 500 resources that support climate adaptation planning at water utilities. The toolbox includes reports and publications, information about funding programs, upcoming workshops and training sessions, models and tools and climate response materials that focus on mitigation and adaptive strategies. The toolbox contains highlighted resources organized into categories to help guide the user to the most relevant information. Hundreds of additional resources in the toolbox can be searched by geographic region, water utility type Read more

A Crack in The Green Regime

I was pleased to be a part of the National League of Cities (NLC) delegation for Dover. It was better than advertised. I was able to get some valuable information which went along with some projects that I had been working on. It may have accelerated my progress by months by giving me real time access to experts who shared my perspective of next practices not “best” practices. Frankly, it was exactly what I was seeking.  Sure not all of them were useful, but the format allowed me to seek out specifically what I was seeking and the right experts. You will see the product of this over the next couple of weeks. The Green regime took a stunning defeat when I led the charge to vote down a resolution taking sides with the radical environmentalists on the Keystone Pipeline. What was unexpectedly fun was the interaction. I was elected an officer of the Christian Public Official Caucus. Read more

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Don't let it be said that I do not support environmental sanity. I was one of the first in my city to participate in the voluntary recycling. I changed my bulbs years ago. I winterized and upgraded. I support alternative energy --just not at any price. I drive a fuel efficient car. Laugh at it while I drive past you when you are at the gas station. I just do not buy into the extreme view governing our state. It is almost as if now that the air and water are cleaner than anytime in the last 150 years that the environmental movement has to invent threats to feel relevant. One does not have to kill the economy to be environmentally responsible. Whatever happened to those simple three words, reduce, reuse, and recycle? We need common sense not global panic and the misallocation of resources ideas like a focus on greenhouse gasses brings. So my green friends do not feel left out. Read more