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Maryland citizens who enjoy preserved farmland and open space should oppose legislation in the General Assembly that would take land out of agricultural preservation and allow commercial solar or wind power infrastructure to be built there.
When the Maryland legislature created the state’s farmland preservation program in 1977 it had a mission that should remain unchanged: To preserve good land for farmers and preserve open space for all Marylanders to enjoy.
The proposed legislation embraces alternative energy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But to allow massive solar arrays on lands the taxpayers paid to preserve violates the public faith in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program and violates the mission of farmland preservation.
Senate Bill 259 and House Bill 861 would allow all of the more than 2,100 farms preserved by the state farmland preservation program to develop acreage for commercial solar and wind generation – up to five acres of solar panels or wind turbines, for example. These uses have nothing to do with agriculture or open space.
Marylanders have paid, to date, more than $617 million to save farms from development. Now the legislature is looking to release much of this preserved land in a way that makes a mockery of this expenditure. There is still plenty of land in the state that has not been reserved for agriculture on which solar panels can be built.
Our farmland preservation program should preserve good ground, not cover good ground with solar panels or other energy installations. Let’s do a better job of protecting our investment in agricultural land and open space.
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