“Accounting for Growth” Policy Analyzed by MACo Winter Conference Panel

At the MACo 2013 Winter Conference on January 3, a series of State, county, and environmental panelists provided a summary of the status and key issues related to the State’s proposed “Accounting for Growth” (AFG) Policy under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  The AFG Policy will account for and require offsets for nutrient (and possibly sediment) pollution generated by new growth.  If properly drafted, the AFG Policy will allow new growth while keeping the State and counties under their TMDL nutrient and sediment targets.  However, a poorly drafted policy has the potential to halt growth in rural areas and render redevelopment projects in urban areas unfeasible.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers led the discussion by providing an overview of the draft AFG Policy and noted that a workgroup will be working on the Policy, including a viable nutrient credit training program, throughout 2013.

Frederick County Sustainability and Environmental Resources Manager Shannon Moore highlighted MACo and county concerns, including the need for a fee in lieu provision, an expansive trading geography, and protection against counties being forced to maintain or guarantee offsets.  She also provided several case studies illustrating the potential costs for a project to comply with the AFG Policy.

Chester Riverkeeper David Foster provided an environmentalist perspective.  He worried that the AFG Policy was “putting the cart before the horse” by creating offset requirements before having a nutrient trading program.  He also advocated the trading of low-cost agricultural best management practices in lieu of far more expensive stormwater management costs.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman was the panel moderator.

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