On April 8, 2019, in a watershed victory for clean energy and climate policy in Maryland, the General Assembly gave final approval to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Both House and Senate chambers provided veto-proof margins: 95-40 in favor in the House and 31-15 in the Senate.
The legislation will transform the way electricity is used in the state, making roof-top solar power and utility-scale solar common forms of generation in the coming years. It will also further kickstart the state’s offshore wind industry, with incentives for 1200 megawatts of ocean-based power. The bill increases the state’s renewable electricity standard to 50% of the total grid by 2030 and requires the state to examine pathways for achieving 100% clean power by 2040.
A downside of the bill is that legislators did not succeed in closing a controversial loophole that counts waste incineration as renewable power, allowing the polluting technology to receive the same incentive as clean wind and solar technologies. For the second year in a row the Maryland Senate passed a bill to remove the clean energy subsidy for burning trash; and, for the second year in a row, the House Economic Matters Committee did not move the policy change forward.
On the whole, this bill is an overwhelming win, and now makes Maryland a true national leader in the fight against climate change and in favor of clean energy. Read more here.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act: Moving Maryland Forward To A 100% Renewable Energy Future
Clean, renewable energy has proven itself to be a powerful driver of economic development in Maryland, including job creation. Using more renewable energy will give Maryland cleaner air and water, helping to protect our residents from the harm of fossil fuel pollution. That’s why a broad and diverse coalition of environmentalists, public health officials, business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, academics, low-income advocates, and social justice advocates has come together to call on Maryland’s leaders to significantly expand the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policy through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. More than 600 organizations across Maryland have endorsed the campaign, and a likely supermajority of legislators in both the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates also support it. This massive coalition is urging the state to move towards 100% clean electricity as soon as possible. This pathway can be accelerated by first doubling the state’s current mandate for clean electricity to 50% by 2030, determining the best plan to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2023, and implementing that plan by 2040.
Maryland is All In For Clean Energy
Increasing the amount of clean, renewable electricity — like wind and solar energy — to power our homes and businesses will benefit our health, our economy, our climate, and our communities. A recent poll from well-known pollster Patrick Gonzales found that 64 percent of Maryland voters think Governor Hogan should support the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
All In For Climate Action
The world’s top scientists are calling for fossil fuel emissions to be cut in half by 2030. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would help Maryland achieve that goal.
Maryland is a coastal state with over 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, thus making us one of the most vulnerable states in America to sea level rise. Climate change also means more severe storms, increased precipitation, deepening periodic droughts, and other detrimental impacts. Increasing Maryland’s RPS to 50% clean power by 2030 would reduce 8.1 million metric tons of CO2, which is the carbon equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road each year.
All In For Health
Fossil fuel combustion is a public health crisis across Maryland. In Baltimore City, the number of children afflicted with asthma is twice the national average. Air pollution from old, outdated, and dirty energy is a burden on Marylanders. These health burdens disproportionately harm low-income communities and people of color with 68% of African Americans and nearly two in five Latinos living within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.
Increasing Maryland’s renewable electricity goal to 50% by 2030 will significantly improve the state’s air quality and prevent 290 premature deaths, and over 3,000 asthma attacks per year.
All In For Jobs
By increasing our renewable electricity goal to 50% by 2030, Maryland is poised to stimulate a statewide resurgence of manufacturing and construction jobs. Renewable energy has already created jobs and helped diversify Maryland’s economy. Maryland’s solar industry, which already surpasses the crab industry in value, now boasts over 210 companies and employs over 5,300 residents. Between 2015 and 2016 the solar industry grew 20 times faster than the state’s overall state economy and there is now enough solar in Maryland to power over 68,000 homes. By raising Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030 with 14.5% of that carved out for solar, Maryland could support and retain nearly 20,000 jobs in the solar industry.
The wind industry is also beginning to thrive in Maryland, with great opportunity for growth. In 2016, Maryland generated enough wind energy to power 49,000 homes. Currently, Maryland boasts three manufacturing facilities and nearly 500 employees in the wind sector. A typical 250 MW wind farm creates about 1,079 jobs over the lifetime of the project. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would carve out 1.2 GW for offshore wind, leading to thousands of additional new jobs.
All In For Justice
The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Campaign strives to ensure that all communities benefit from the clean energy economy. Low-income communities and communities of color have borne the majority of the costs for dirty energy production. In Maryland, low-income communities and communities of color face higher cancer risks from hazardous air pollutants. They are also more likely to live near facilities that emit toxic emissions. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Campaign is also committed to stopping all subsidies for trash incineration under the state’s RPS policy. This will end the practice of Marylanders investing their tax dollars in sources that harm their communities and block investments in clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
SOS: Save Our Solar Industry
Maryland’s solar industry is at risk
President Trump imposed 30% tariffs on solar panels in early 2018. This move will make solar more expensive and decrease solar investments throughout the country, resulting in an estimated 23,000 lost jobs nationwide. Even before the tariff, Maryland’s solar market has been beginning to decline now that the solar requirements in the current RPS have been met. Solar companies in Maryland were laying off workers or shifting to other states. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act would bolster the state’s solar industry and bring thousands of new jobs to Maryland.
How the Clean Energy Jobs Campaign moves Maryland forward to a clean and just society
Phasing Out Harmful Waste Incineration
Incineration threatens local communities and the whole state, which is why many local and statewide groups oppose construction of any new incinerators. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Campaign is committed to phasing out subsidies for trash incineration in the RPS. New clean energy development from removing waste incineration from the RPS would decrease carbon emissions, reduce healthcare costs, and deliver economic benefits regionally.
By providing more investments in clean energy and moving away from fossil fuel and trash combustion that release toxic emissions, Maryland would significantly improve the lives for all communities, especially low-income residents and communities of color.
Focusing On Workforce Development
The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Campaign will establish a working group among government agencies and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities to invest in job training in the clean energy industry in economically distressed regions of the state and to remove barriers for entry in the clean energy economy. In addition, it makes small minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses in this industry eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund.”
A renewable energy future is an achievable future
This campaign builds on past successes in Maryland. In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the original Clean Energy Jobs Act, achieving a 25% renewable electricity standard by 2020. This was a landmark victory for all Marylanders. Now, we must pass the bold, visionary policy to increase Maryland’s clean electricity standard to 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. We know that together we can work towards a clean, renewable energy future.
If you have any questions, contact Brooke Harper, Maryland & DC policy director, at Brooke@chesapeakeclimate.org.
- “Md. Climate Scientists Send Urgent Plea to Busch on Clean Energy Jobs Act.” Maryland Matters. 3/4/19
- “Study: Annapolis Businesses Have Lost Up To $172,000 To Nuisance Flooding.” Capital Gazette. 2/22/19
- “Ray Lewis: Solar Workforce Development Can Transform Disadvantaged Communities.” Maryland Matters. 2/12/19
- “No more time for debate on climate change.” Southern Maryland News. 1/23/19
- “2019 General Assembly Began Its 90-Day Session on Wed.” WFMD. 1/10/19
- “Poll Shows Strong Support for Rx Drug Measure, Health Care Mandate, Clean Energy.” Maryland Matters. 1/9/19
- “Will Hogan join ‘super majorities’ in the legislature to back clean energy bill?” The Daily Record. 1/8/19
- “Larry Hogan, reluctant environmentalist.” Baltimore Sun Opinion. 1/7/19
- “Is Maryland prepared for a clean energy future?” The Frederick News-Post. 12/28/18
- “Maryland advocates call on Gov. Larry Hogan to support clean energy bill.” Salisbury Daily Times. 12/13/18
- “Md. Clean energy jobs act a priority in 2019.” Baltimore Sun Op-Ed. 12/6/18
- Factsheet about Senate Bill 516
- Factsheet about House Bill 1158
- Why Maryland can’t wait for the PPRP study
- MDV-SEIA: Maryland Lost 800 Solar Jobs in 2018. More Losses Coming in 2019 Without General Assembly Action
- Stanford researchers find rising seas can hurt local economies
- Prominent Maryland Climate Scientists Call On House Speaker Michael Busch to Pass CEJA
- Prominent Maryland Climate Scientists Call On General Assembly to Pass CEJA
- Annapolis Business Owners Call On General Assembly to Pass CEJA
- Renewable Industry Response to PPRP Interim RPS Study Report
- List of Legislative Endorsers
- 2019 Gonzales Poll: 64% of Maryland Voters think Hogan should Support the Clean Energy Jobs Act
- Factsheet: CEJA has Momentum to Pass
- Factsheet: Maryland’s 3-Step Plan for 100% Renewable Electricity
- Factsheet: Clean Energy Jobs
- Factsheet: CEJA and Public Health
- Resolution: Montgomery County Council Supports Expanding RPS to 50%, Removing Trash Incineration
- 2018 OpinionWorks Poll: 71 percent of Maryland voters support expanding our clean energy standard to 50% by 2030. 82 percent of Maryland voters favor investments in clean energy workforce development, targeting economically distressed parts of the state and individuals who have barriers to employment, and 80 percent favor investments in minority- and women-owned clean energy businesses.
- Restoring Wetlands in Maryland: Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Factsheet: Taking Out the Trash in the Renewable Portfolio Standard
- Factsheet: Health Impacts of Trash Incineration
- Factsheet: Phasing out Waste Incineration
- Factsheet: How BRESCO’s Pollution Harms Baltimore
- Factsheet: Montgomery County Incinerator
- Factsheet: Incineration Vs. Landfills
- Patterson, J. (2015). Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs (pp. 3-4, Rep.). Baltimore, MD: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. doi:February 2015
- Based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Avoided Emissions and Generation Tool (AVERT) and Co-Benefits Risk Assessment Screening (COBRA) model. Assumes 6,130 MW of land-based wind development and 1,378 MW of solar development as a result of this bill. See Avert model at <https://www.epa.gov/
statelocalenergy/avoided- emissions-and-generation-tool- avert>; see COBRA model at <https://www.epa.gov/ statelocalenergy/co-benefits- risk-assessment-cobra- screening-model>
- Solar Jobs Census 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2017, from https://www.solarstates.org/#
- State Fact Sheets. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2017, from http://www.awea.org/resources/
statefactsheets.aspx? itemnumber=890&navItemNumber= 5067
- American Wind Farms: Breaking Down the Benefits from Planning to Production. Rep. Natural Resources Defense Council, Sept. 2012. <http://www.nrdc.org/energy/
- Alperg et al. (2005). Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities in Cancer Risk from Air Toxics in Maryland. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257593/
- Wilson et al. (2013). Being Overburdened and Medically Underserved: Assessment of This Double Disparity for Populations in the State of Maryland. https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-13-26