The Maryland Chamber joined the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Commission for Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (CEJSC) this week in co-sponsoring an important business and environmental justice summit.
The summit “Bringing Businesses and Communities Together in Protecting the Environment: Streamlining the Environmental Permitting Process” was held to start the conversation between the business community and environmental justice advocates. The overall message of the summit was that early proactive and open communication among all stakeholders is key to balancing business productivity with environmental and community protection.
Delegate Mary Washington (D-Dist. 43) of Baltimore City urged business, government and environmental communities to work together in protecting communities while achieving business goals. She said that environmental justice obligations could serve to help economic growth in the state, and more businesses should consider including environmental justice standards as part of their business plans.
The Q&A portion of the meeting revealed a variety of perspectives including the thought that all communities are not created equal. When environmental justice standards are being considered, the business impact on a particular community should first be considered, particularly those sections of the state that are in direct competition with bordering states.
While in the past the business community may have been reluctant to engage in discussions with a sector perceived to want to limit business growth, the summit was a beneficial first step The goal of future meetings will be to move the conversation forward in effort to allow stakeholders to work collaboratively on permitting and regulatory processes that impact many.