Tom’s Newsletter – July 2018

Green Jobs Apprenticeship Program Good for Workers, Industry, Environment

Last month, the County Council unanimously approved my bill that will create a clean-energy jobs apprenticeship readiness program through Worksource Montgomery, which provides job-training and other employment services around the county.

This program will help meet two critical needs in our county:

  • It will give our jobless and underemployed residents a great opportunity to train for a well-paying career and climb up the economic ladder.
  • It will help provide the skilled workers that our construction companies need, as the industry increasingly incorporates greener technologies. And the need for these workers will only grow, with significant development scheduled in County buildings, schools, neighborhoods near the Purple Line, downtown Wheaton and White Oak, all of which will have a major focus on using renewable-energy sources.

On top of that, promoting more green building technologies is good for the environment and will help the County meet its goal of zero carbon emissions by 2035.

The program will focus on training unemployed and underemployed youth and transitioning adults. The goal is to set them up for success in apprenticeship programs registered with the Maryland Apprenticeship Training Council and for eventual long-term employment in the cleanenergy construction industry.

The program will help prepare participants to work in jobs related to solar systems, green roofs, geothermal systems, rainwater catchments, pervious pavement, thermal walls, wind, natural gas, sewage treatment and other environmental technologies.

The program is not expected to cost taxpayers anything, according to a fiscal analysis by the County’s Office of Management and Budget. The program is anticipated to cost from $10,000 to $17,500 annually, with Worksource Montgomery seeking grants or sponsorships to cover expenses.

More information on the bill is here:

Community Solar Projects Will Help Cut Carbon Emissions

Developing our renewable energy sources is one way we can help curb global climate change, whose effects we’re already seeing: from higher temperatures and rising sea levels to more powerful hurricanes and flooding.

That’s why I introduced a zoning change that the County Council unanimously approved in May that will allow community solar projects in the county.

These solar installations will be able generate up to 2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200 homes. Other counties, such as Prince George’s, Baltimore and Anne Arundel, already have approved as many as 38 community solar projects under new state regulations.

These projects have many benefits:

  • They allow people who want to use solar energy but can’t have their own rooftop panels to become part of the green economy and save money on their electric bills. Many residents want to use solar power but can’t because their roofs are too shaded by trees, or they live in condos or apartments.
  • Each 2MW project is the equivalent of getting 310 passenger vehicles off the road and preventing more than 5 million pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere annually.
  • Each project will generate 75 to 100 temporary and permanent jobs, $300,000 in personal property tax and up to $4 million in private investment.

More information is here:

Stormwater Management: Projects Need Oversight for Most Benefit

Our county, along with others in Maryland, is required to minimize polluted runoff from rain that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay, This is done using various technologies, including dry wells, grass drainage swales, green roofs, ponds, rain barrels and porous pavement.

This spring, the county executive proposed in our six-year capital budget a radical overhaul of how we manage these projects. His proposal could have resulted in having only a small handful of contractors managing the projects, from designing and building to maintaining them.

Most of us on the County Council — and many community environmentalists — were concerned that these contractors would be able to cherry-pick which projects to work on, and would choose the “low-hanging fruit”: those projects most profitable to them, regardless of their environmental benefit.

We successfully blocked this proposal and overrode the executive’s line-item veto of our own plan.

Our proposal will do the following:

  • Significantly scale back the size of the executive’s contracting approach. Then we can see how well it works and if it’s how we should proceed in the future.
  • Proceed with about a dozen projects that are already well along in the design stage.
  • Ensure that at least 60 percent of the projects involve “green” infrastructure, such as swales, green roofs and reforestation, versus “gray” infrastructure — concrete and steel projects.
  • Provide for greater transparency and citizen oversight of the stormwater management process.

A public hearing on our proposal is scheduled for July 10 at 1:30 p.m.

More information is here: and

AFI Silver Screens Kicks Off With ‘Jurassic Park’

I’m proud to once again help present Silver Screens, AFI Silver’s annual terrific series of free outdoor family movies this summer.

This year’s screenings kick off with 1993’s “Jurassic Park” on Friday, July 13, and continue on Friday evenings through Aug. 31. Movies start at sundown, between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

There’s a new venue this year: Sonny’s Green at The Blairs District, 1401 Blair Mill Road in downtown Silver Spring. The Blairs is also a co-presenter, along with the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center.

Other films this summer include “Moana” (July 20) and “Jumanji” (July 27).

More information and the schedule are here: