The General Assembly should not approve any bills that allow wind turbines or solar panels on agricultural lands that are under restrictive easements purchased from farmers by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, MALPF (“Bills would allow wind, solar projects on protected farmland,” March 6).
The easements preserve the use of the land for agriculture and forestry, and commercial development is prohibited. Any commercial use must be related to the production of agricultural or forestry products.
In this way, Maryland can maintain its agricultural independence when the price of importing products from other states or countries increases. For example, the drought in California is causing a decline in the production of crops there, and the prices of their produce that we enjoy here may rise significantly. The cost of shipping will increase as well as the price of fuels. If we maintain our ability to produce crops here rather than losing our agricultural lands to development, Maryland will be in a much better position in the future. Wind turbines and industrial arrays of solar panels will not produce agricultural products.
If lands already under MALPF easements are permitted to be used for wind and land-consuming commercial solar energy development, the farmers who accepted payments for putting restrictive easements on their agricultural lands should be required to pay back that money to the State Program Open Space, which funded the MALPF easements. Program Open Space funds have been raided for years to balance the budget. Requiring the recipients of publicly funded easement payments to return that money would contribute to increased funding that could support further land preservation.
Ajax Eastman, Baltimore