ANNAPOLIS — Today, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy released its 2014 State Legislative Agenda calling for major investments in rural Maryland, robust land conservation funding, and continued support for locally produced renewable energy projects.
Some of the items in the agenda include support for continued conservation program funding, support for the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund, support for a Cross-Bay Travel Alternatives Study bill, and support for the 2014 Community Renewable Energy Generation bill. ESLC’s agenda points out that conservation monies support much more than farms and scenic landscapes and that these funds help support hunting grounds, parks, bike paths, public access sites and more.
“We need to support our farms and resource-based industries here on the Shore, and we can do that through the support for Rural Legacy, Program Open Space, and Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation funding”, said ESLC Policy Manager Josh Hastings.
In addition to support for expansion of Maryland Wildlands, the agenda calls for the Maryland General Assembly to pass a Cross-Bay Travel Alternatives study bill which its says could help alleviate Bay Bridge traffic congestion while evaluating options for private investment in cross bay travel. ESLC’s white paper on transportation is available under Public Policy Resources at eslc.org.
“How we travel in our rural region is a critical piece of our quality of life,” said ESLC Deputy Director Amy Owsley. “We hope to help focus attention on how best to make the most of our infrastructure through investments in transit and transportation policy innovations. Creativity and partnerships would go a long way to easing some of our most pressing transportation challenges.”
ESLC also supports the 2014 Community Renewable Energy bill, which is said to allow Maryland farms and other rural businesses to install renewable-energy-generating devices such as solar panels or a wind turbine and share the energy credits among neighboring subscribers. These facilities could be used to reduce grid dependency while sharing energy costs to nearby small farm operations.
“After eight years of inaction, now is the time for funding the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF),” Hastings said.
In 2006, the General Assembly established the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund to provide grants to regional nonprofit and educational entities for economic and community development projects that would help bring rural Maryland’s standards of living up to statewide averages by 2020.
For more information, please visit eslc.org.