Politics, Sci-Tech

Baltimore County to develop framework for new Resilience Authority to combat ‘climate change’

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TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County officials have announced plans to develop a framework for a Resilience Authority that will finance, and support sustainability infrastructure projects to protect Baltimore County’s shorelines, communities, and residents from “climate threats,” according to the official press release.

In addition, officials on Thursday announced that Baltimore County was awarded nearly $2 million to support climate resilience efforts in Turner Station.

“We are already seeing the consequences of climate change – both environmental and financial – in Baltimore County, and we have an obligation to take action now to reduce future impacts,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “A Resilience Authority will allow Baltimore County to proactively research and establish dedicated financial resources for projects to reduce flooding and damage to county and community infrastructure, and I thank the members of the County Council for approving this important contract.”

In 2020, the Maryland General Assembly authorized local jurisdictions in Maryland to establish Resilience Authorities for the purposes of undertaking and financially supporting “resilience infrastructure projects” to mitigate the effects of climate change. On December 5, the Baltimore County Council approved an agreement with Throwe Environmental, LLC to help quantify Baltimore County’s climate resilience needs, and examine how a Resilience Authority can be structured and financed to support efforts to reduce impacts from climate threats, including flooding, sea level rise, excessive heat, and storm surge.

By creating a pipeline of projects eligible for federal grant funds and other independent funding sources, the County’s Resiliency Authority would provide a flexible financing system for forward-thinking sustainability infrastructure projects that compliments Baltimore County’s ongoing investments to reduce impacts from climate threats.

Throwe Environmental will develop a proposed comprehensive climate resilience financing system and deliver a final report in fall 2023. Baltimore County would be the third county in Maryland to establish this type of organization, following Anne Arundel and Charles counties.

Baltimore County Awarded Nearly $2 Million to Support Environmental Resiliency in Turner Station

In further sustainability progress, County officials on Thursday also announced Baltimore County was awarded $1,482,900, in the recently-approved FY23 Omnibus Spending bill as well a $500,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) to develop a climate resilience roadmap for Eastern Baltimore County’s Turner Station community.

“It’s critical we do all we can to mitigate the impact of climate change, and this new funding will help us strengthen the environmental resiliency of one of Baltimore County’s most historic and impacted communities,” said Olszewski. “We are grateful to our federal partners for their help in securing this investment, which empowers us to work with the residents of Turner Station to build a greener, more resilient Baltimore County for years to come.”

In total, this nearly $2 million investment will support efforts by Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation and the Baltimore County Office of Sustainability to incorporate green stormwater solutions in order to improve aquatic habitat and community resilience and prioritize community-centered engagement through small working groups and surveys to understand future coastal hazards and identify resilience priorities.

“Turner Station is an important community with a unique history, and it faces substantial challenges from sea level-rise, more frequent and violent storms, and other threats. This new federal investment will help community leaders develop a clear path forward for addressing these stressors, enhancing its climate resiliency and better securing its future,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. “I am proud to successfully deliver this latest infusion of Congressionally Directed Spending, and will continue working on behalf of Maryland communities state-wide to ensure that they are better equipped to confront the realities of climate change.”

“Improving Maryland’s resilience to climate change and severe weather will better protect our residents’ lives and livelihoods. These resources will ultimately help strengthen stormwater infrastructure in Turner Station, which is essential for homes and businesses facing increasingly frequent flooding. Projects like this help protect our neighborhoods from the harmful and costly impacts of the climate crisis, which is exactly why we fought for this federal funding,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“Turner Station is a community rich in history with a future equally bright – if we rise to the challenge presented by increasingly intense and frequent storms and the chronic flooding that result,” said U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. “I am proud to have helped secure this critical funding to conduct modeling to plan for potential flooding scenarios in order to best protect lives and livelihoods. This is just one example of how the recently-passed omnibus spending bill will help fulfill many of the basic community needs across Maryland.”

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