Pipeline may affect drinking water, activists fear

Environmental activists warn that construction of a 21-mile natural gas pipeline through northern Baltimore and Harford counties could affect the region's drinking-water system, as the $180 million project cuts across more than three dozen streams feeding into Loch Raven Reservoir. Theaux Le Gardeur, executive director of the Gunpowder Riverkeeper, has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval of the pipeline last month and order a more detailed review of the project's environmental effects. (Balt. Sun)

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Little Sisters hopeful after Supreme Court stays Obamacare birth control mandate

A Roman Catholic order of nuns who care for the elderly poor was hopeful Wednesday after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked an Obamacare provision that would have required it to authorize birth control coverage for employees starting with the new year. The Obama administration has allowed some religious nonprofits to sidestep the so-called contraception mandate by filing a form that would allow a third-party administrator to provide the coverage at no cost to the organization. (Balt. Sun)

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Year's end redoubles watershed advocacy

The last day of the year found the Potomac Conservancy planning a new year that dovetails with 2013 to clean up the Potomac River watershed. On Tuesday, the conservancy emailed encouraging messages to would-be donors that their contributions would be doubled through the last day of the year. A challenge came from 15 former members of the conservancy's board of directors who offered to match new and increased donations up to $10,000, according to a news release from Hedrick Belin, conservancy president. (News-Post)

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Transportation officials slate major improvements for 2014

Due to revenue from the state’s gas tax increases, the State Highway Administration was able to green-light several projects that had been on hold for lack of funding.  “There is a lot of good stuff coming up,” spokesman Charlie Gischlar said, adding that gas tax funds have “allowed us to move a lot of projects forward, not only in Frederick County, but throughout the state.” (News-Post)

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Taneytown becomes state-designated Sustainable Community

Taneytown has joined the ranks of three other Carroll municipalities as it was recently added to the list of Maryland's Sustainable Communities, which is a push to reinvest and revitalize the state's older neighborhoods. This opens the door to grants and funding sources only available to Sustainable Communities. These seek to conserve resources, provide green spaces and parks, and offer transportation sources to their residents, according to the Maryland Department of Planning's website. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Dec. 30 // Slots revenue drives 13 percent increase in Md. horse breeding in 2013

Nearly 650 mares were bred in Maryland this year, a 13 percent increase over 2012, and a surge in state slots gambling revenue could help raise the number again next year, according to the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The gambling revenue has deepened racing purses and the pot of bonuses available for horses bred and sired in the state, driving the rebound from years of decline in the horse breeding and racing industries, officials said. The industries have launched an advertising campaign to promote the growth and encourage more of it. (Balt. Sun)

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Doctors overcharge on workers' comp medicine, critics say

When Marylanders purchase the painkiller Vicodin, it costs about 37 cents a pill at a pharmacy. But when a doctor dispenses it under Maryland's workers' compensation system, the cost per pill can increase dramatically, officials and doctors acknowledge. It sells for $1.46 a pill, four times the standard cost, according to a study by the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute. (Balt. Sun)

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50-year-old Md. House gets makeover 

Nearly five decades old, the Maryland House is set to reopen on the state’s main superhighway next month as a new, ultra-modern rest stop. The pit stop, gas station and eatery on Interstate 95 in Aberdeen that has greeted weary travelers since Lyndon B. Johnson occupied the White House was closed in September 2012 and razed. It has been rebuilt over the past 18 months in a $30 million redevelopment. (Daily Record)

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