ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — Maryland has long sought to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. And some innovative approaches to do that are taking shape at the state capitol in Annapolis.

What to do with all that ash when coal burns in a power plant furnace? Ask western Maryland House of Delegates member Mike McKay.

“Up in my area, there’s a lot of coal mining,” said McKay. “We have a thing called coal ash. It’s a byproduct of it,” said McKay, that waste can be ecofriendly.

“We recycle the coal ash for green cement applications such as in the Chesapeake Bay, in shoring up all of the shorelines.”

Protecting that shoreline — and the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries — is a passion of Maryland State Senator Sarah Elfreth, whose Anne Arundel county district borders the majestic bay.

“Now is really the time, the science now,” said Elfreth. “It’s much more intensive. It’s much more accurate than it was 40 years ago, so now is the time to hyper-focus on what we call the effective basins, which are the tributaries and rivers.”

“It’s a win-win for the environment and energy jobs,” said Delegate McKay.

“We want to make sure that the fly coal ash is taken care of, environmentally friendly but also takes care of my coal miners back home where I represent,” McKay explains.

And the University System of Maryland is a partner with the department of the environment to move the plan forward. Delegate McKay’s proposal is getting some attention from national companies in the “sustainable innovations” space. Kentucky-based Charah Solutions has taken an interest in his approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and recycling the coal ash byproduct.