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Offshore Wind, Fracking, Syria’s Chemical Weapons, & Maryland’s Unemployment Rate

Taken in 2010 by Nuon via flickr

We report on the push to develop an offshore wind industry in Maryland. We examine a new study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) in Western MD. Plus: a team from Aberdeen Proving Ground has completed the destruction of Syria’s most dangerous chemical weapons. MD’s unemployment rate rose to 6.1% in July. And more.

Maryland Offshore Wind Industry Takes the Next Step: Today Maryland’s offshore wind industry is set to move one step closer to reality. The federal government is holding an auction for two leases to develop wind farms about ten miles off the coast of Ocean City.  As WYPR’s Bret Jaspers reports, both the public and private sectors hope that this high risk venture will yield high rewards.

UMD Study On “Fracking” Released: A report from the University of Maryland on potential effects of natural gas exploration in Western portion of our state says the process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could pose threats to the region’s air quality. According to the Baltimore Sun, the study says harmful air pollution would likely result from fracking, which oil and gas companies want to use to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Garrett County. The report also says fracking would have a “moderately high” likelihood of leading to declines in water and soil conditions. And the study goes on to say the natural gas industry would put likely strains on the health care system in Western Maryland if it expands there… and increases in crime and other problems could also result. The report’s authors say the potential impacts of fracking should be addressed beforefracking is allowed in Maryland… and makes 52 recommendations for dealing with them. The Washington Post notesthat Governor Martin O’Malley has imposed a de facto moratorium on fracking while studies are conducted; the report out yesterday was the second of three that the governor commissioned, and the third is expected to come out this fall.

Syrian Chemical Weapons Stocks Neutralized: The Pentagon announced yesterday that the most dangerous of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stocks have been destroyed. The scientists that neutralized the approximately 600 tons of chemicals were from Aberdeen Proving Ground. The 64-member team destroyed the chemical weapons while onboard a heavily guarded ship in the Mediterranean Sea – and the task took less time than the 60 to 120 days that had originally been estimated. Chemical weapons such as these had never been destroyed on a ship before – and officials tell the Baltimore Sun that the operation could serve as a model for future. The byproducts of the now-neutralized chemical weapons will now be disposed of at sites in Finland and Germany.

MD Unemployment Rate Rises In July: Maryland's unemployment ticked up three tenths of a percent last month. Preliminary figures released by the U.S. Labor Department yesterday show the state’s jobless rate for July was 6.1%. That’s just below the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. In all, Maryland lost nine-thousand jobs last month – representing the second worst July job-loss in the nation, behind only Ohio, where employers cut more than 12-thousand positions.The Baltimore Sun has more; there’s morehere from the Baltimore Business Journal.

Concourse B Security Gate At BWI Closing During Morning Hours: Transportation Security Administration officials are temporarily closing the Concourse B Security Gate at BWI-Marshall Airport during the morning hours. TSA says that high volume of air travelers is what’s sparked the closure. They say that the lines are so long in the morning hours, that they’ve been bumping up against the ticket counters of Southwest Airlines. The Baltimore Sun reports that the TSA is working with the airport and Southwest to come up with a permanent plan; in the meantime, folks are being sent to the Concourse C Security Gate.

MD Car Thefts At Lowest Level In More Than 35 Years: Car thefts are down in Maryland. AAA Mid-Atlantic says fewer cars were stolen last year than at any time since 1975. More than 13-thousand vehicles were stolen in 2013… about 1 thousand less than the year before. The auto club attributes the lower numbers to greater public awareness, improvements in anti-theft technology and programs by police and other agencies.

Proposed Changes To Salisbury Chicken, Bee Rules: On the Eastern Shore, residents of Salisbury could soon find it easier to keep chickens and bees in their yards. The Salisbury City Council is considering ordinances that would eliminate many of the restrictions on beekeeping and poultry farming in the city. The measures would require that people who want to have chickens or bees register with the state Department of Agriculture. Beehives would have to be located at least 10 feet from property lines, and chicken coops at least 5 feet from property lines. And potential chicken owners would not be allowed to keep roosters – and would be limited to six hens. The Daily Times notes that the proposals are facing some opposition – with residents worrying of the smells that chicken farming would generate, and an increased possibility of bee stings.

MASN Hearing: A judge has ruled that Major League Baseball cannot force the Baltimore Orioles to pay the Washington Nationals more money to broadcast Nationals games on the Mid Atlantic Sports Network, or MASN. The New York Supreme Court Judge has also granted the Orioles an extension of an injunction which precludes the Nationals from ending MASN's license to air their games during rights fees negotiations. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox in last night’s game; 8 to 2 was the score. The two teams play again tonight.

Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals won their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday… after 11 innings, the score there was 5 to 4.

WYPR's Morning Edition news anchor Ashley Sterner serves up the latest Maryland news and weather every weekday morning, delightfully interspersed with the occasional snarky comment.