A challenging General Assembly session for environmental groups ended with the failure of two key proposals — one to measure the loss of Maryland forests and another to end green-energy subsidies for a Baltimore trash incinerator.
Neither bill came up for votes in the state Senate on Monday, the last day of the legislature's 90-day lawmaking session.
Alison Prost, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said she expected state lawmakers to be more eager to act on environmental issues, given that many of them expressed concerns that President Donald Trump has weakened some federal clean air and water standards.
"I am puzzled by the lack of priority given to the environment given that you can't go far in Maryland without being near the water," Prost said.
Lawmakers did not ignore the environment altogether. They passed proposals to protect the state from the possible harms of offshore oil and gas drilling and to preserve efforts to build wind farms off the state's coast.
But environmentalists classified those measures as defensive moves to prevent further pollution, instead of efforts to more aggressively clean the Chesapeake Bay and slow global climate change.
"There were certainly some disappointments," said Kristen Harbeson, political director for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.
Environmental advocacy groups urged the General Assembly this year to close loopholes in state forest conservation laws that have allowed the clearing of some of Maryland's largest and most dense forests — in some cases without requirements to replant any trees. Developers and county and municipal governments disagreed with elements of the proposal that would have made construction projects and tree planting efforts more expensive and logistically challenging.
The Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday rejected proposals to grow the state's renewable energy supply and to disqualify some polluting sources of energy from receiving green energy subsidies from state utility customers.