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Maryland shows good environmental policy is also good politics | Opinion

Maryland is setting an example for the rest of the country by implementing strong environmental policies that have practical economic advantages. Recent developments include increased enforcement over pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and the expansion of offshore wind energy.

Maryland's recent success in enforcing pollution control in the Chesapeake Bay demonstrates how good environmental policy can also be good politics. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement involving lawsuits from Maryland, neighboring states, and environmental advocates over increased enforcement on pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay from Pennsylvania. The move is expected to have a significant impact on agricultural runoff that contributes to nutrient overload in the bay. While Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River is the largest source of freshwater into the Chesapeake Bay, it is also responsible for much of the pollution, particularly excess nitrogen and phosphorus. The settlement highlights the importance of increased enforcement to ensure responsible farming practices and better management of soil conservation and manure.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore
Maryland Governor Wes Moore

Maryland's progress in environmental governance and policy has also been notable in several other areas. Governor Wes Moore recently signed legislation to expand the use of offshore wind in Maryland, promote electric vehicle use, increase land conservation, and create programs to encourage state contractors to use climate-friendly materials. While the state is yet to meet its 2025 pollution goals, these policy measures and the progress made so far demonstrate the potential of environmental governance to create economic opportunities, particularly in energy conservation, ecotourism, and green construction.

The successful implementation of environmental policy also relies on strong regulatory agencies that support broad agreements. Maryland's experience illustrates how state governments and environmental advocates can hold regulatory agencies accountable to ensure better enforcement of environmental regulations. However, the current political climate in the United States poses a challenge for environmental policy implementation. With climate-science-denying GOP conservatives in the majority in the US House of Representatives, the prospects for stronger policies from Capitol Hill seem bleak.

Nevertheless, Maryland's success demonstrates the economic and practical advantages of environmental policy implementation. The expansion of offshore wind energy production at Tradepoint Atlantic is set to create thousands of jobs and represents just one example of the potential economic benefits of green policies. Other economic opportunities include energy conservation, ecotourism, and green construction. Maryland's environmental governance also contributes to creating a healthier, more attractive, and more sustainable place for future generations.

Implementing green policies will not always be easy, and the choices will not always be straightforward. Baltimore's struggles with recycling collection demonstrate the competing demands and priorities of cities. However, this does not exempt cities from their long-term obligation to be responsible stewards of the natural world. This obligation is not just about progressive utopia but also about practical ambition to protect public health and ensure a safe and sustainable environment for future generations.

Maryland's success in environmental governance demonstrates the potential of good policy to drive positive environmental outcomes and generate economic benefits. It also underscores the importance of political leadership and regulatory enforcement to hold stakeholders accountable for meeting environmental targets. As the world faces increasing environmental challenges, it is essential that governments prioritize responsible stewardship of the natural world, ensuring that the planet remains habitable and healthy for generations to come.

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