Annapolis, MD – Today, Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. signed into law SB0348/HB0653: The Conservation Finance Act of 2022.
The legislation has drawn praise from dozens of businesses and conservation organizations focused on improving the environment. The historic legislation makes a comprehensive suite of changes to state contracting law, environmental funds, and green infrastructure programs that will help achieve Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, forest conservation, climate, and environmental justice goals without increasing the state budget.
The most important provisions in the Conservation Finance Act include:
- Allowing the state to simply purchase environmental outcomes, like carbon sequestration and water quality
- Creating the first climate-inclusive definition of green infrastructure in state law, and the first-ever definition of blue infrastructure in any law
- Making green and blue infrastructure financing opportunities the same as gray infrastructure
- Appointing a commission to expedite permitting for ecological restoration and climate resilience projects and to promote green and blue infrastructure projects
- Prioritizing environmental justice in a number of state-funded programs for the first time
- Changing state revolving loan funds to authorize financing for acquisition and restoration of forests and other natural assets
Billions in private finance are flowing into global conservation efforts, from $200 billion in carbon offset work to $4 billion in U.S. wetland and stream restoration. This bill was developed over a two-year process with the goal of helping Maryland attract at least $100 million of new private finance each year.
Passage of the legislation was led by Senator Sarah Elfreth, Delegate Regina Boyce, and Delegate Sarah Love and by co-sponsors Senator Jim Rosapepe, Delegate Dana Stein, Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Mary Lehman, Senate Guy Guzzone, Senator Will Smith, and Senator Katie Fry Hester.
The full text of the bill can be found on the Maryland General Assembly’s website. A section-by-section explainer, a catalog of letters of support, quotes from legislators, and more resources are available on the Environmental Policy Innovation Center’s website.
Leave a Reply