New Patrick Gonzales Poll: Montgomery County Voters Are Highly Concerned About Climate Change and Want Major Action Soon, Especially on Solar Power

More than 75 Percent of Voters Say They Want a Concrete Plan, Within Six Months, that Will Lead to “Major” Pollution Cuts. Nearly 69 Percent Support Solar Power on Farmland With a Cap.

ROCKVILLE, MD – A bi-partisan majority of Montgomery County voters in Maryland say they are personally concerned about the rising impacts of climate change, with a whopping 94 percent of Democrats expressing concern. In a new poll released today,  voters also say they are eager to see the County Council keep a 2017 promise by adopting — within six months — a plan that will lead to “major pollution cuts.” As a first step, nearly 69 percent of voters countywide support a bill now before the Council to allow a limited number of solar farms on agricultural land in the northern part of the county. 

The poll, conducted by noted Maryland pollster Patrick Gonzales, comes just one day after Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich released a long-awaited Draft Climate Action Plan for the county. It includes a host of recommendations but no concrete legislative plan to achieve pollution reductions. 

“This poll clearly shows enormous voter support for climate action in Montgomery County — but also growing impatience with the pace of action, “ said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The County Executive and Council must do more, and soon, to keep pace with voter expectations as extreme weather pummels our region.”

The Gonzales poll, commissioned by CCAN, shows that a strong 70 percent of Montgomery voters support the County Council’s 2017 declaration of a “climate emergency.” That declaration called for an 80% reduction in climate pollution by 2027, but the Council has adopted no major bills to make this happen in three years. Now 75.1 percent of voters want major action within six months.

More immediately, voters overwhelmingly support a bill, passed by a committee of the County Council last summer, to place a limited number of solar farms in the County’s Agricultural Reserve with certain conditions. But full passage of the bill has not yet occurred. Interestingly, the greatest voter support for the bill comes from the County’s District 1 which contains most of the Ag Reserve.

The poll was conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Services from December 2nd through December 6th, 2020. A total of 325 registered voters in Montgomery County, who indicated that they vote regularly in county elections, were queried by live telephone interviewers, utilizing both landlines and cell phones. The margin of error, per accepted statistical standards, is a range of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

“This is a noteworthy poll for Montgomery County with strong results on policy questions,” said Patrick Gonzales. “We asked clear and direct questions that help fill in some of the voter opinion gaps that always exist on key issues, especially at the more local level.”

For the past 35 years, Patrick Gonzales has been widely recognized in Maryland for his ability to conduct unbiased surveys, and analyze the results in an impartial, even-handed manner.

A recap of key findings from the report include:

  • Eighty three percent of voters in Montgomery County are concerned about climate change
  • By party, 94% of Democrats; 69% of independents; and 51% of Republicans are worried about global warming
  • Closer to home, 70% of residents support the resolution the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed in 2017 declaring a climate change emergency
  • Further, a supermajority 75% of Montgomery County voters support the County Council adopting a climate solution plan within the next 6 months
  • Nearly 69 percent supported a limited number of solar farms in the County’s Agricultural Reserve as long as most of the solar energy powers the homes of low and moderate income residents of the county

Further breakdowns by age, gender, race, district, and political party can all be found within the report. You can download it here.

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Contact:
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-460-5838
Laura Cofsky, CCAN, laura@chesapeakeclimate.org, 202-642-9336

Key Permit for Eastern Shore Pipeline APPROVED

CONTACT

Laura Cofsky, laura@chesapeakeclimate.org, 202-642-9336
Anthony Field, anthony@chesapeakeclimate.org, 301-664-4068

Advocacy Groups Criticize Maryland Board of Public Works Decision in Wake of Climate Change and Justice Concerns

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Leading environmental and justice groups expressed shock today after members of the Board of Public Works voted 3 to 0 to approve a key permit for the Del-Mar Pipeline to carry fracked gas into the Eastern Shore region of Maryland. The Del-Mar Pipeline is one of the two controversial, dirty-energy pipelines proposed for the region in an era of rapid climate change and environmental justice sensitivity. 

Although Wednesday’s vote does not guarantee the pipeline will be built, it does signal that opponents of the project — including the NAACP and Chesapeake Climate Action Network — are running out of options for fighting it. The Del-Mar pipeline is already under construction in Delaware to carry gas from that state into Maryland. The seven miles of pipeline proposed for Maryland would supply concentrated animal feeding operations, businesses, and residential areas. 

“By approving the Del-Mar pipeline, the Board has elected to ignore numerous climate change and environmental justice concerns,” CCAN’s Maryland campaign coordinator Anthony Field said. “Building this pipeline will set back the state’s climate goals while further burdening vulnerable communities on the Eastern Shore.”

For months, the Hogan Administration has put its thumb on the scale in favor of this project. While studies have shown that there are cheaper and viable alternatives to gas, including electrification and geothermal energy, the State of Maryland didn’t consider any of these options. Instead, it only requested applications for a gas pipeline to supply fracked gas to two state-run facilities.

“The proposed pipeline will produce large quantities of deadly methane that will accelerate global heating,” said John Groutt of the Wicomico Environmental Trust. “The Delmarva Peninsula is the third most threatened area of the country for flooding. Intruding salt water is already destroying productive agricultural land and forests, and this will increase with this project. The same energy could be supplied easily and more cheaply by solar and wind without the harmful side effects.” 

The two proposed pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million significantly increasing fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state. This includes $30.3 million administered by the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) new Maryland Gas Expansion Fund “for the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.” The remaining $70 million is recoverable from MD ratepayers. Read more about it here.

“This is not a smart decision,” Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Director Josh Tulkin said. “Greenlighting another fracked gas pipeline is like throwing more gasoline on the climate crisis. This project undermines the state’s climate goals and contradicts the recommendations of the Maryland Climate Commission, which is led by the Governor’s own Secretary of the Environment.”

As a next step, CCAN will continue to fight the pipeline, including the Chesapeake Utilities portion which is expected to come before the Board in the next couple of months. 

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.