Today, the Maryland Department of the Environment announced that they are denying the permits to clear cut over 200 acres of Southern Maryland forest for a solar project.
Clean Water Action, along with many other local and regional groups and individuals, objected to the proposal, pointing out the problems with clearing forest for solar development. While solar energy is beneficial and we have an urgent need to transition off fossil fuels, we need to place it with care and foresight. Choosing a site for solar development that requires clear cutting over 200 acres and impairing a high quality stream is not planning with care and foresight.
Clear cutting forest for solar development is not acceptable; preserving green space is not antithetical to promoting renewable energy. The developer stated that it planned the solar farm on this forest to "avoid controversies" that have arisen when solar is planned for active farmland. We hope that the solar industry will focus future solar developments on brown fields, rooftops, and parking lots instead of chipping away at Maryland's remaining forests.
Thanks to the coalition of local, statewide, and regional groups that sprang together to mobilize public comment, and a huge thanks to the people in Charles County and throughout Maryland who turned out to packed public hearings and submitted written comment. We appreciate the Maryland Department of the Environment and how seriously they took this issue, scheduling multiple meetings to capture the overflowing public comment.