Stories in Maryland/DC

Legislative Priorities: Leading Maryland Forward

Advocating for a cleaner future for Maryland's environment and communities.

View of the Ocean City Maryland skyline. The buildings line the skyline in the distance across an open body of water. Green marshes cut by meandering channels of water are in the foreground.
Front Lines of Climate Change View of Ocean City across the salt marshes in Isle of Wight, Maryland. © Matt Kane / TNC

Change is here in Maryland. We are feeling the impacts of increased flooding, more frequent and severe precipitation events and rising temperatures. These growing challenges are stressing infrastructure, threatening human and natural communities and overburdening our local governments. We must work together to build more capacity, strengthen coordination and increase available resources to fund programs and projects that build resilience.

Maryland state house in Annapolis. On the left three stone columns support a plinth inscribed with "Under Law". The domed cupola of the main statehouse building rises in the background.
State House Change is here in Maryland. © Rachael Voorhees / Flickr Creative Commons

The Maryland General Assembly ended on April 11, 2022 and our state legislators used the ninety day legislative session to take marked action to protect Maryland’s future. While our state continues to face challenges as we head into the third year of the global pandemic, the Maryland/DC chapter's Government Relations team was able to work alongside our TNC conservation staff and environmental partners to promote our priority legislation, targeting issues key to TNC's mission and values: climate mitigation, climate adaptation, investing in nature-based solutions and advancing equity through policy.

MD's Climate Solutions Now Act blazes a path towards greenhouse gas net-neutrality by mid-century. This is a courageous step forward; I hope it inspires other states so we can avoid severe climate impacts and economic disruption.

Tim Purinton Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in MD/DC

Legislative Highlights

A city bus passes through an urban intersection. The destination sign reads GR Downtown. Tall buildings rise in the background. Three people stand on a corner waiting to cross the street.
Transportation is one of the largest sources of carbon pollution. © Copyright (c) 2019 Shutterstock. No use without permission.

Reduce Carbon Emissions: The passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act (S.B.0528) is a climate win for the state of Maryland! Led by Senator Pinsky and Delegates Barve and Stein, this legislation sets carbon emissions reductions goals to net-zero by 2045 and targets Maryland’s highest emitting sectors: transportation, buildings and energy.

TNC is especially pleased the bill includes high standards for emissions reductions in state-owned buildings. Looking ahead, TNC is committed to advancing ambitious climate action to achieve the goals set for Maryland in the Climate Solutions Now Act.

Underwater view of a restored oyster reef. Clumps of oysters cover the muddy bottom of Harris Creek.
Reef Restoration Oyster reefs can take the punch out of storm waves while providing critical aquatic habitat. © Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Natural Climate Solutions: We are thrilled that the Conservation Finance Act (S.B.0348) passed this year, advancing nature-based solutions to clean our waterways, sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. Sponsored by Senator Elfreth and Delegate Love, this bill codifies nature as infrastructure by defining natural infrastructure in Maryland code and will expand state agencies’ ability to use pay-for-success contracting for environmental restoration and protection projects, making investments more efficient and effective.

A woman ducks her head into the wind and she walks through ankle deep flood water. Behind her a building is partially collapsed in the water.
Mitigating Climate Change Confronting the challenge of stronger and more frequent storms driven by climate change. © Dave Harp

Climate Resilience in Maryland: With the passage of the Office of Resilience legislation (S.B.0630), Maryland will now have an Office of Resilience and a Chief Resilience Officer within the Maryland Department of Emergency Management, expanding upon current resilience work happening in state agencies by better incorporating emergency management perspectives within these programs.

TNC thanks the bill’s lead champions Senator Hester and Delegate Sample-Hughes on this accomplishment and we look forward to engaging with this new office to streamline Maryland’s response to climate change, disaster mitigation and increase resiliency efforts across the state.

These three bills were TNC’s top priorities for the 2022 legislative session, but we also advocated alongside our partners for meaningful policy that advances other TNC Maryland/DC Chapter priorities, such as state sustainability, oyster habitat restoration and land preservation. This includes bills that fund $16 million for oyster replenishment, restoration and aquaculture in the Bay, protect old-growth forests and irreplaceable natural areas on state lands, invest in state parks, fund sustainability initiatives in communities across the state, prioritize equity in the transportation sector and provide tax relief for community solar systems.