Conservation Finance Act Passes In the Maryland General Assembly
One of the Most Impactful Legislative Initiatives for the Future of Chesapeake Restoration
Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn and Environmental Policy Innovation Center Executive Director Timothy Male issued these statements following the passage of the Conservation Finance Act (CFA) in the Maryland House of Delegates, SB0348. The House version of the same bill, HB0653 has been reported favorably out of both Senate Committees and is headed to the Senate floor for likely passage in the next few days. Both bills will be presented to Governor Larry Hogan for his anticipated signature.
Once signed into law by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the CFA will become the first state law in the country that will expand the ways private financing can benefit state climate, water quality, and conservation goals. The bill makes green infrastructure, natural infrastructure and a focus on social equity a bigger part of a diversity of Maryland environmental programs.
The following statement is attributable to Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn:
“Like the federal government and communities across the country, the Chesapeake conservation community is working tirelessly to achieve a goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and waters across the nation by 2030.
“To achieve these goals and meet the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals, we need to think more broadly about restoration and conservation. We need to incentivize and empower private investments.
“With passage of the Conservation Finance Act, Maryland promises to be a role model for other states to follow. The Conservation Finance Act will make progress happen faster and speed up the scale, pace and effectiveness of restoration investments.
“Thank you to Senators Sarah Elfreth, Jim Rosapepe, Katie Fry Hester, Guy Guzzone and William C. Smith, Jr. and Delegates Kumar Barve, Dana Stein, Sara Love, Regina T. Boyce and Mary A. Lehman for their extraordinary leadership to advance these bills. I’d like to extend additional gratitude to the many conservation nonprofits, private restoration and investment companies and state agencies who supported these proposals.”
The following statement is attributable to Environmental Policy Innovation Center Executive Director Timothy Male:
“Environmental progress doesn’t always have to come with a taxpayer price tag. Around the world, there are more and more situations in which private capital is playing a role in improving water quality or delivering climate solutions. Or where private capital and incentives can ensure that public money is used more cost-effectively and quickly.
“Maryland’s adoption of the Conservation Finance Act will make it the first state in the country to realize and act on this fact. The bill tweaks a handful of the state’s most important conservation programs—as well as its contracting laws—to make it easier for private finance and initiatives to play a role in helping achieve Chesapeake Bay, forest conservation, climate and environmental justice goals.
“The Conservation Finance Act makes Maryland the first state in the country to create a climate and flooding-focused definition of green infrastructure. The first in the country to define blue infrastructure—like oyster reefs and seagrass beds—as important infrastructure to the state. And the first in the country to put a set of creative approaches for water infrastructure loans into law.
“In addition, these actions put Maryland in a better position to use new funding provided by Congress in the Infrastructure law to deliver bigger and better projects for Maryland’s environment and communities.”
The following statement is attributable to the Act’s primary Senate sponsor, Senator Sarah Elfreth:
“Meeting our Chesapeake Bay restoration goals requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. The Conservation Finance Act leverages the power of the private sector community to improve water quality, advance environmental justice and public health, expand initiatives around forest and agricultural soil carbon sequestration, and reward projects that deliver co-benefits like local jobs, flood risk reduction, and climate resilience–It will bring an unprecedented private-sector investment into this critical effort.”
The following statement is attributable to sponsor and Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Vice-Chair, Senator James Rosapepe:
“To fight climate change and protect the Bay, we need to boost public and private investment in conservation. This new law is a big step forward.”
The following statement is attributable to one of the Act’s primary House sponsors, Delegate Regina Boyce:
“By including environmental outcomes in state procurement code and defining green and blue infrastructure, the Conservation Finance Act makes Maryland first in the nation in finding creative ways to finance environmental restoration.”
The following statement is attributable to one of the Act’s primary House sponsors, Delegate Sara Love:
“This legislation will deliver a triple bottom line for Maryland: it will help us to meet and exceed our environmental goals without requiring new public funding to do it, it will support local jobs and investment, and it will generate community benefits in disadvantaged parts of the state.”
The following statement is attributable to sponsor and Maryland House Environment & Transportation Committee Chair, Delegate Kumar Barve:
“The Conservation Finance Act represents an innovative use of the market to further Maryland’s clean environment agenda.”
The following statement is attributable to sponsor and Maryland House Environment & Transportation Committee Vice-Chair, Delegate Dana Stein:
“I am thrilled at the passage of the Conservation Finance Act. The Act will lead to greater private investment in blue and green infrastructure. I am particularly excited about the opportunity to leverage support from carbon markets, which can play a big role in reducing carbon emissions.”