Skip to main content
Commentary Energy & Environment

Commentary: The energy industry’s giant land grab of Md. farmland

Farm fields stretch across rural Baltimore County. photo by jonbilous.

By Jay Falstad

The writer is the executive director of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association.

Maryland farms are a crucially important food-producing asset of our state. Unfortunately, those rural areas and associated small-town economies are in the crosshairs of a giant land grab by out-of-state corporate energy interests. The energy industry (largely represented by solar developers) has weaponized “climate change” as a low-cost way to capture many tens of thousands of acres of Maryland’s food production capacity.  Do we really have to let that happen?Right now, House Bill 1407 has leadership backing in the General Assembly and would lock communities completely out of decisions related to whether certain methane plants; poultry litter-to-energy; waste-to-energy; refuse-derived fuels; certain raw or treated wastewater systems system; in addition to any kind of wind and solar, can be located in their communities. Whether urban or rural, Democrat or Republican, HB 1407 appears to be a big money land grab.

Out-of-state corporate energy interests are ruthlessly trying to take advantage of Governor Moore’s goal of getting Maryland to 100% renewable by 2035. While the governor’s clean energy goals are necessary in this age of rapid climate change, the energy industry is trying to force outrageous policy objectives concerning project siting — putting them on Maryland’s croplands and open space and bypassing ALL local zoning controls. The greed has now extended so far that they are willing to open the door to massive community and environmental damage, obliterating Maryland’s commitment to environmental justice, and all in the name of making a buck on the backs of Marylanders.

Consequently, state policymakers — most of whom receive significant campaign contributions from energy interests — are being pressured to make hasty, uninformed decisions that would irreversibly harm Maryland’s communities. Cheerleading on climate change at the expense of Maryland’s communities and agricultural sector is short sighted and irresponsible, especially when future food production becomes increasingly important on an ever-growing planet.Right now, energy siting policies in Maryland are a chaotic mess in desperate need of leadership and a smart, balanced plan. The Maryland Energy Administration and certain state senators and delegates aren’t listening to the concerns of Maryland’s counties and towns, and they’re not understanding how this corporate land grab will impact Maryland’s communities.

While alternative energy development should be a priority in Maryland, it should not come at the expense of farmland, open space, or environmental justice. Legislators, please keep the big picture in mind when weighing overreaching policies like this. And Governor Moore, please keep your commitment to not leave us behind.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our website. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

To republish, copy the following text and paste it into your HTML editor.


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
Commentary: The energy industry’s giant land grab of Md. farmland