The Nature of Change
Maryland is abundant with natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources that contribute significantly to our economy and quality of life. I have long held that conservation and economic growth need not be at odds with one another, and we are making great strides to that end.
In August, Maryland submitted to the federal government our final Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to restore the Chesapeake Bay, developed to meet our pollution reduction targets by 2025 as part of a multi-state Bay restoration effort. Our administration continues to lead on environmental conservation in the region with a focus on the watershed, by committing a record $5 billion toward wide-ranging Bay restoration initiatives.
We also continue our commitment to skilled stewardship of our lands and waters, along with increasing and encouraging public access and enjoyment of our treasured natural and cultural resources. This fall, Mallows Bay in Charles County was designated as the first national marine sanctuary in the state’s history. We worked with the county and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to craft a responsible agreement to protect our history, our environment, and this unique and fascinating recreational opportunity for boaters and anglers at this location along the Potomac River.
Protecting these resources while meeting the needs of a growing state is a challenge, but we are succeeding. In my most recent State of the State Address, I pledged my strong support for clean and renewable energy solutions that are affordable, reliable, and produce jobs right here in Maryland. Earlier this year I announced solar energy initiatives that will help achieve these goals.
The Maryland Department of General Services, along with Maryland Environmental Service, will conduct a first-of-its-kind assessment and inventory of state properties that could be utilized for solar energy.
The state is pledging an additional $4 million in grants to aid large public institutions, including community colleges and universities, to deploy solar arrays on existing infrastructure—such as parking lots and rooftops—while encouraging state agencies to incorporate solar energy into any future construction.
I also established a Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, which will work to develop consensus-based recommendations on the siting of new solar and wind energy projects in the state.
These innovative initiatives will provide millions of dollars in benefits to Marylanders and lower energy and maintenance costs, all while creating clean energy and green jobs opportunities.
As we develop new energy technologies, we also continue to support one of our oldest sustainable resource-based industries. I recently announced the nonprofit Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to advance Maryland’s forest products sector.
The federal funds will be matched by $150,000 in funds and in-kind contributions by the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources, Commerce, and Agriculture; the Maryland Agriculture and Resource Based Industries Development Corporation; and numerous partners.
A healthy, vibrant forest industry is a benefit to our economy, as well as an essential component to the environmental health of our state. This grant will help key stakeholders, including the Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council and its partners in state government, develop a strategy to rebuild our forest industry.
Maryland has experienced one of the biggest economic turnarounds in America with more businesses now open and more people working than ever before in the history of our state. I’m working to ensure that this success happens in conjunction with, and not at the expense of, our positive strides in environmental stewardship.
Article appears in Vol. 22, No. 4 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, fall 2019.