Environment Town Hall: Howard County Emphasizes Bold Solutions to Tackle Climate Change and Energy Independence
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball hosted an Environment Town Hall at the Robinson Nature Center on April 29, to highlight the many initiatives and policies Howard County has in place to address community concerns, climate change , and energy independence.
“We’re planting trees, supporting local food systems, nurturing pollinators, improving local water quality, conserving energy, and harvesting clean and renewable electricity. We are focused on bold solutions, backed by science, to sustain Howard County’s resources and tackle the effects of climate change,” said Ball.
The event highlighted some of the most impactful progress the County has made during the past four years including:
- Committing to meeting the protocols set forth in the Paris Agreement by signing the “We’re Still In” initiative.
- Signing the “Natural & Working Lands Challenge” committing Howard County to pursue nature-based climate solutions.
- Passing the strongest Forest Conservation law in Maryland, to protect existing trees and increase replanting requirements.
- Planting more than 60,000 trees and designating Howard County as a Bee City.
- Signing the largest Solar Power Purchasing Agreement in Maryland, which will generate enough energy to cover more than 75% of the county’s energy usage.
- Expanding the food scrap collection program, so that more than 50% of households can now participate and divert food waste from the landfill.
- Converting 100% of streetlights to higher efficiency LEDs.
- Implementing the County’s first policy to reach a 100% green fleet.
- Planning for more than 100 publicly accessible EV charging stations on county property by 2023.
- Distributing 12,146 (43% subsidized) Roving Radish Meal kits in 2021, the largest yearly amount in the program’s history while expanding the Roving Radish to include a Marketplace and food delivery to families with limited food access.
- Surpassing the requirements to improve local water quality by installing new stormwater management facilities on public and private property, utilizing innovative technology to retrofit existing facilities, forming partnership programs for commercial and nonprofit partners, performing stream restorations and wetland enhancements, planting trees, and maintaining infrastructure.
At the Environmental Town Hall, Amy Gowan, Director of Planning and Zoning discussed the County’s next General Plan, HoCo By Design, which recognizes the environment’s role in a healthy economy and culture. The plan includes ambitious policies to address climate mitigation, adaptation, resiliency, and natural resource protection.
Raul Delerme, Director of Recreation & Parks discussed natural resource conservation and community involvement through volunteers.
Mark DeLuca, Deputy Director of Public Works discussed beneficial reuse such as strengthening recycling, food waste diversion, or alternative power generation and efficiency.
Bruce Gartner, Transportation Administrator discussed the FY 2023 budget for transportation projects, such as bicycle and pedestrian projects, and how it reflects the County’s environmental priorities.
“This town hall put on display a County government that, for the last four years, has truly focused our work through the lens of Climate Change and instituted a culture of sustainability and environmental protection,” said Director of Community Sustainability Josh Feldmark.
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