Maryland has a far-reaching climate action plan that, if fulfilled, would make our state a leader in tackling the climate crisis. In 2009, the Maryland General Assembly passed the landmark Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA), mandating a statewide reduction in greenhouse gas pollution of 25 percent by 2020. In July of 2013, state officials released the Maryland’s roadmap to meeting that goal—our Climate Action Plan. It includes proposals to increase clean energy and energy efficiency goals, expand access to public transportation and move our state toward zero waste.
CCAN activists fought hard to put this historic plan in motion. Now we’re fighting just as hard to ensure Maryland meets and even exceeds its goals, which will put our state on the path to a strong economy, healthy families and a safe climate.
In 2016 Governor Hogan signed the renewed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016, that requires Maryland to slash emissions economy-wide by 40% below 2006 levels by 2030.
Maryland’s Climate Action Plan
The 2013 Climate Action Plan for Maryland contains strong goals and over 150 programs aimed at strengthening Maryland’s clean energy economy, improving our health, reducing waste, and protecting our climate. Key elements and benefits include:
- Reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually.
- Raising the state’s renewable energy goals, requiring that 25 percent of Maryland’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.
- Reducing waste by “reusing, recycling, composting and saving our way to Zero Waste, including an 85 percent reduction in generation of solid waste by 2030.”
- Boosting Maryland’s economy by creating $1.6 billion in economic benefits and 37,000 new jobs through smart, sustainable investments.
- Improving Marylanders’ health by reducing emissions of toxic air pollution and other harmful chemicals.
Maryland’s climate action plan is strong, but we need to make sure we achieve it. Here’s what our elected officials need to do:
Most of Maryland’s electricity still comes from carbon-spewing fossil fuels—coal and natural gas. Using polluting energy sources hurts our health, our economy, and our climate. In the face of catastrophic storms, super droughts and increased wildfires from global warming, it is time to take bold steps on climate and move to a 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. The state’s new standard should grow to 50% renewable electricity by 2030.
2. Bringing Offshore Wind Power to Maryland
The wind blowing off Maryland’s Atlantic coast is a vast, untapped energy source. Offshore wind has the power to provide clean energy, create local jobs, establish long-term electric price stability, and produce the equivalent of two-thirds of Maryland’s current electricity needs.
With passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, the result of a three-year campaign led by CCAN and health, faith and business allies, Maryland is finally on the way to tapping our vast wind energy resource. The legislation incentivizes construction of more than 200 megawatts of wind power ten miles off the coast of Ocean City. This is just the first step toward a goal of over 1,000 megawatts of ocean-based wind development in coastal Maryland. Now, we’re working to make sure offshore wind becomes a reality for our state as the federal leasing process begins.
3. Expand Community Access to Renewable Energy
Community Renewable Energy (CRE) is electric energy generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and moving water. CRE generating systems are flexible and locally-scaled. They can be designed to suit a variety of environments and may take many forms such as a solar panel installation on the roof of an apartment building or church, an installation of small-scale wind turbines or a ‘micro-hydro’ facility in a small stream or creek.
Expanding Community Renewables will make it possible for Marylanders who might otherwise be excluded from the renewable energy market—such as low-income individuals, renters, and those with properties unsuitable for renewable energy development—to pool their resources and benefit from the production of clean, locally-produced electricity.
On April 4, 2016, Governor Larry Hogan signed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 (SB 323) into law. The bill was introduced by Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Kumar Barve, and requires Maryland to slash emissions economy-wide by 40% below 2006 levels by 2030. The bill deepens the state’s existing emissions reduction mandate first passed in 2009. The bill passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 100-37 and the Senate by a vote of 38-8, with bipartisan support in both chambers. Thanks to all of the CCAN activists who made this victory possible!
But how do we get there? Maryland, along with eight other states, is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which caps carbon dioxide pollution in the Northeast. On August 17, 2017, the states announced that they plan to reduce the carbon pollution cap by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. This is a great step — but much more needs to be done. We all need to do more to ensure the equitable distribution of the benefits associated with lowered pollution and RGGI auction revenue. With the pollution reduction framework established, we now need to turn inward and evaluate if our communities are being invested in equitably. We must keep transitioning our electricity and fuel sources to renewable energy in a manner that benefits all Marylanders.
To get involved in fighting climate change in Maryland, email Brooke Harper, Maryland Outreach Coordinator at Brooke@chesapeakeclimate.org.
“Maryland joins 8 other states in carbon emission cuts.” Baltimore Sun. 8/23/17
“On the Bay: Hogan signs greenhouse gas, open space bills.” Capitol Gazette. 4/4/16.
“Maryland Lawmakers Approve One of the Nation’s Strongest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals.” CCAN Press Release. 3/17/16.
“Maryland sets bolder target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.” The Washington Post. 2/24/16.
“Maryland Senate advances major climate bill by huge, bipartisan margin.” CCAN Press Release. 2/23/16.