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Environmental protection

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) serves as the state's primary environmental protection agency. MDE protects and restores the quality of Maryland's land, air, and water by assessing, preventing and controlling sources of pollution for the benefit of public health, the environment and future generations. MDE regulations control the storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes and ensure long-term, environmentally sound solid waste recycling and disposal capabilities. In 2003, Maryland had 168 hazardous waste sites listed in the Environmental Protection Agency's database, 18 of which were on the National Priorities List.

MDE has broad regulatory, planning, and management responsibility for water quality, air quality, solid and hazardous waste management, stormwater management, sediment control, wetlands and waterways management, and water allocation. MDE also plays a pivotal role in Maryland's initiatives to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and has divided the state into ten major tributary watershed basins, each of which have specific nutrient reduction strategies designed to give the Bay added protection from the effects of stormwater run-off, airborne pollutants, and direct discharges. Additionally, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources manages water allocation, fish and wildlife, state parks and forests, land reclamation and open space.

MDE operates an innovative infrastructure financing program that leverages federal, state, and local funds to upgrade wastewater treatment plants, connect residents to public sewer systems, and improve water supply facilities. In addition, the Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-public agency, contracts with local governments to design, construct, finance, and operate wastewater treatment plants, water supply systems, and recycling facilities.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for the management, enhancement, and preservation of the state's living and natural resources. Utilizing an ecosystem approach to land, waterway, and species management, DNR programs and services support the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, sustainable populations of fishery and wildlife species, and an integrated network of public lands and open space.

The Maryland Office of Planning's mission is to plan for the most effective development of the state and all of its resources. The Office assists state agencies and local governments to more effectively achieve environmental, agricultural, and natural resource objectives by integrating them with comprehensive planning and land use management. The state has recently embarked on a Neighborhood Conservation and Smart Growth initiative to encourage population and economic growth in priority funding areas, and to use a Rural Legacy Program to preserve agricultural, forest, and other rural lands from development. In 2001, Maryland received $91,169,000 in federal grants from the Environmental Protection Agency; EPA expenditures for procurement contracts in Maryland that year amounted to $61,152,000.