In the past eight weeks, over 200 Marylanders attended and testified before the Maryland Climate Commission. The Maryland Climate Commission held listening sessions across the state to report on the progress of Maryland’s Climate Action Plan and also to learn how people across the state want to address climate change in their communities.
Maryland’s Climate Action Plan was borne out of the 2009 passage of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA), which created over 150 programs and policies designed to cut our state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. This GGRA law must be renewed in 2016. Without action from the Maryland General Assembly, the state will lose its legal mandate to cut greenhouse emissions and implement the programs that will protect Maryland for generations to come. CCAN is mobilizing activists to call on our state legislators to renew and strengthen the GGRA. One of the most critical ways we can strengthen our plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and the top recommendation in Maryland’s Climate Action Plan — is to increase the state’s clean energy standard to 25% by 2020.
The climate commission could have walked away empty handed, without any input from everyday citizens – yet you made sure that didn’t happen. Across the state, climate activist, labor, faith and elected leaders spoke out with one clear message: Maryland must do more and can do more to address climate change in our state. This was a critical step in ensuring that Maryland’s Climate Action Plan is renewed. The Climate Commission, along with the Maryland Department of Energy, will be issuing a report to the Hogan administration and our state legislators this fall to help shape Maryland’s next steps.
The first meeting was held in Baltimore City in a small library meeting room. City Councilman Jim Kraft decried Governor Larry Hogan’s nixing of the funding for the red line and the lack of opportunities for economically down-trodden Baltimore to be a transit-oriented community. He was joined by Cheryl Arney, who held up a picture of her granddaughter along with a report predicting the rising sea levels along Maryland’s coast line and talked about the price of inaction. Representatives from Fuel Fund spoke out about how weatherization and improving the energy efficiency of low and moderate income households would have a lasting impact on our climate. Funds for these weatherization projects are possible due to programs outlined in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and Maryland’s Climate Action Plan.
On the Eastern Shore, a small group of dedicated activists championed strengthening Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and increasing Maryland’s clean energy standard.
In Western Maryland, Engage Mountain Maryland, local elected officials and Senator Roger Manno showed up to have their voices heard. Members of Engage Mountain Maryland spoke of their opposition to fracking and declared that it should not be a component in any climate action plan due to the unknown health and environmental risks. They also shared studies that show the emissions from fracked gas worsens climate change and is far worse than coal for the climate. Senator Manno decried Governor Larry Hogan’s refusal to publish the new rules on coal fired power plants. Local residents spoke of their love for the landscape of Western Maryland and how they feared that fracking would poison their communities.
In Southern Maryland, Cove Point activists spoke stridently against the export facility in Lusby and the impacts that it would have on their health. One activists spoke out and stated that if everyday citizens had to curb their pollution through vehicle emissions and other legal mandates, than coal power plants need to have mandates to curb their own pollution.
The climate commission listening sessions culminated in Prince George’s County. Delegate Dereck Davis pledged to rise above partisan politics and work to have the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act passed through the House of Delegates. Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, challenged everyone in the room to call, show up to hearings and ensure that their legislators felt grassroots pressure to pass the renewal of the GGRA and fight for clean energy policies. Over 96 people attended the Prince George’s County climate commission listening session, leaving an undeniable impression on the climate commission that citizens from across the state want to see Maryland be a leader in confronting the climate crisis.