Senate Bill 350 (Chapter 520, MD. Annotated Code, Acts of 2006) created the Task Force on Minority Participation in the Environmental Community with a sunset date of July 2007. The Task Force was charged with evaluating minority participation in the environmental community and make recommendations for improved participation. (See: Final Report to the Governor and General Assembly)
Four main areas of concerns centered on: 1) the lack of minorities in key policy positions throughout the state government; 2) the lack of attention and funding support that traditional environmental organizations directed at minority issues and concerns; 3) the lack of minority participation in the efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake and Coastal Bay watersheds, and 4) the lack of public education programs directly connecting minority health issues to the disparate environmental conditions that prevail in some communities.
A key recommendation is the creation and funding of the Maryland Minority Environmental & Land Trust (MELT). The MELT would serve as a vehicle to implement and finance the various recommendations outlined in this report. The General Assembly would establish the trust with initial investments of $250,000 per year for the first five years. Additionally, nine agencies involved in environmental issues would contribute $100,000 annually in dollars or in-kind services for a 5 year period. Total funding for the first five years is $5,750,000. Additional recommendations include establishing an Inter-Agency Workgroup and a Steering Committee.