State, Exelon Reach $200M Settlement to Clean Up the Bay

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced Tuesday that the state and energy giant Exelon Corp. have reached a legal settlement laying aside litigation between the state and the company over management and other issues associated with the Conowingo Dam.

    As part of the settlement, Exelon, which operates the dam and generates hydropower, will invest about $200 million for an array of measures designed to clean up the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. State officials have long maintained that sediment coming through the dam has polluted the river and bay.

    Including agreeing to spend $52 million to implement new flow control requirements at the dam, which state environmental officials believe will enhance aquatic life and the downstream ecosystem, as well as better upstream migratory fish passage, the state said the company has agreed to dedicate:

    • $47 million for climate resiliency projects, including submerged aquatic vegetation, clams, oysters, and restoration of living shorelines.
    • $41 million to increase efforts to remove trash and debris flowing down the Susquehanna River.
    • $25 million for an initiative to restore a healthy population of water-filtering mussels in the Susquehanna, including contribution of land for the construction of a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art hatchery.
    • $19 million for other projects to improve water quality in the Chesapeake, including agricultural projects such as cover crops and forest buffers.

    “This settlement is a significant and positive step in the right direction, and with the cooperation of Exelon and upstream states, we can continue making progress in our efforts to preserve and protect this great national treasure,” Hogan said in a statement.

    Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon, called the agreement “a victory for clean energy and the long-term preservation of the Chesapeake Bay.”

    “The agreement is designed to substantially improve water quality while ensuring Maryland’s largest source of renewable energy continues to deliver environmental and economic benefits for the next generation,” Crane said.

    The agreement must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.