Maryland Legislative Preview
In this episode, CCAN helped pass the most ambitious climate legislation in the American South, the Virginia clean Economy Act. Sadly, we did not fare as well across the Potomac in Maryland. However, advocates in 2021 are optimistic that this is the year that Maryland will pass sweeping climate legislation. This episode is the recording of CCAN’s legislative preview event for Maryland. Our phenomenal organizers were joined by Maryland delegates, Paul Pinsky, Lorig Charkoudian, and David Frasier-Hidalgo, where they outline their goals for 2021.
Read the full transcript below.
Charles Olsen 0:01
Hi, my name is Charlie Olsen and this is the Upside Down podcast from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. In this episode in 2020, CCAN helped pass the most ambitious climate legislation in the American South, the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Sadly, we did not fare as well across the Potomac in Maryland. However, advocates in 2021 are optimistic that this is the year that Maryland will pass sweeping climate legislation. This episode is the recording of CCAN’s legislative preview event for Maryland. Our phenomenal organizers were joined by Maryland delegates, Paul Pinsky, Lorig Charkoudian, and David Frasier-Hidalgo, where they outlined their goals for 2021.
Mike Tidwell 0:42
Thank you, and welcome everybody. Again, I’m Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Chesapeake Climate Action Fund, and welcome to this Maryland legislative preview call for the year 2021. And boy, doesn’t that sound good for 2021. Good riddance to the battle year of 2020. But in the year 2021, we can be sure to expect two things. One is that climate impacts will continue, we’re going to continue to see more rain bombs, the kind of rainstorms that we’re seeing to entertain events are almost routine. Now, in the DC area, more sea level rise, more heat waves are in our futures. So the climate impacts are not going to go away even as the calendar year turns over to 2021. The other thing that is going to continue is that Maryland can and must continue its leadership on clean energy policies to combat climate change, even during the challenges of the pandemic. And I’ve been really proud for the last 18 years as a Marylander. To work with the delegates and senator you’re going to hear tonight with members of the General Assembly who’ve passed amazing legislation in the last two decades, to clean up our coal plants to ban fracking to incentivize and mandate solar energy and offshore wind. And you’ll hear more of that. We need to do more. We’ve pushed the planet outside its comfort zone. And now we have to push ourselves outside our own comfort zones in terms of what is politically possible and what we’re willing to do as activists and volunteers. So I’m looking forward to it. So I want to begin tonight by thanking the legislative champions who you’re going to hear tonight. In a moment you’ll hear from Senator Paul Pinsky of District 22 in Prince George’s County, he and delegate Dana Stein of District 11 in Baltimore County are sponsoring one as he can action funds, top priorities, and Tony. And that’s the climate solutions now Act, which you’ll hear more about shortly. Then you’ll hear from my dear friend, delegate David Fraser Hidalgo of District 15. In Montgomery County who is sponsoring Senator Ben Kramer District 19. Also in Montgomery, the climate crisis in Education Act, a bill that I think is one of the most fascinating pieces of legislation and perhaps one of the most timely bills, both in terms of climate, and in terms of the budget health of our state. And I’m looking forward to hearing David talk about that. Then finally, you’ll hear from my state delegate, Laurie Turkuaz, of District 21, garment county about her excellent and long overdue bill called the Public Service Commission, climate and labor tests. She’s also sponsoring that bill with Ben Kramer, Senator Ben Kramer of District 19. All of these leaders are climate hawks, they go the extra mile. They’re obsessed and committed to climate change, just like all of us on this call, and where would we be without these legislative leaders? So I want to thank them in advance. But it’s going to be a tough year. We all know that. COVID is here. We’re in a recession. There’s budget issues. It’s hard. It’s hard time to push forward on these bills. But we can do it. I know we can. But we can’t do it alone. One nonprofit and legislative leaders can’t do it. You on this call you the voters, us the citizens, you the activists are that link to get us over the top. I just want to say one quick thing about COVID and all the challenges that we’re going to face. I was on a call earlier today where a member of the city council of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said all of the following in Ann Arbor, Michigan in November 2019, that city declared a climate emergency. Then COVID came and they still stuck to their guns. And they came up with a climate action plan on March 30. As the stock market was falling and unemployment was going up, they came up with a Climate Action Plan proposing a billion dollars in investments to fight climate change over the next 10 years. And then in May 2020, the Ann Arbor City Council passed a bill that authorizes these investments during again code Good time, so it can be done. There are inspiring stories out there. And I know that Maryland is going to do the same in 2021, while simultaneously working with the new Biden administration. So the goal tonight, hopefully is to give you some facts you didn’t know, hopefully to inspire you a little bit. But ultimately, the goal tonight is to move you to help us pass the bills. You’re going to hear about turnout tonight, help us get ready, get ready to make calls, get ready to send emails, attend virtual lobby days. And I would finally issue the last issue, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to join the 16th annual sea cam polar bear plunge on February 13. That’s my last plug. Go to keep winter cold. org, we’re going to do it virtually a climate Bucket Challenge. It’s going to be great, keep winter cold.org. And now I’m going to hand it over to our Maryland policy director Jamie DeMarco.
Jamie DeMarco 5:52
Thank you, Mike. And I am going to introduce the incredible Chairman Paul Pinsky, who is part of the very origin story of climate policy in Maryland, from the very beginning, he has been are one of our strongest champions, and we are so grateful to have a leader like him, as the chair of the education health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Chairman Paul Pinsky was instrumental at the hip to passing the Healthy Air Act years ago. And that remains one of if not the strongest legislation of its kind. And he voted for the original renewable portfolio standard in Maryland. And in the year since there’s not been a single climate bill that’s passed without tremendous support from Chairman Paul Pinsky. And we are now incredibly thrilled that he is our sponsor for the climate solutions now act. I’m going to turn it over to Chairman Paul Pinsky.
Paul Pinsky 6:44
Thank you, Jamie. And thank you, Mike. For the last four or five years, Mike and I have served on the Maryland climate commission. But I have to tell you, we’ve done it with a great deal of frustration. We have heard a lot of talk, but very little action. The administration has prepared a plan, which is so ephemeral, you couldn’t figure out what the plan is. And that’s actually helped drive the climate solutions now
Paul Pinsky 7:11
And I want to thank CCAN for helping shape this bill. There are a lot of groups and grassroots groups working on it. But see, Ken has been instrumental in helping shape the many aspects of it, let me very briefly talk about the bill. It calls for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas by 2030. That means in the next nine years, it calls for us being carbon neutral by 2045. And besides those broad 30,000 feet things, it wants to hold the administration’s feet to the fire. You know, they’ve talked about doing this and doing that, but they haven’t done it. The bill calls for planting 5 million trees by 2030. And we know how they capture carbon dioxide. It calls for the whole state fleet of cars to become zero emissions vehicles. You know, they’ve used money to talk about infrastructure and charging stations, but they haven’t spent $1 on leading by example. And we think by 2030 every automobile under the state auspices should have zero emissions there. You know, energy efficiency, we know it can save a lot of money, a lot of energy. We upped that number by 50% from 2% to 3% in energy efficiency. We’ve also learned Mike talked about inspiring stories. The Empire State Building is an amazing inspiring story of the greening of the Empire State Building. They put a multi million dollar effort. And some great thinkers, environmentalist said we will recapture your money in five or seven years. If you do this, now, they have increased energy efficiency by 40%. Their new elevators create energy. We can do that here in Maryland. So we actually are calling for new building standards for large renovation for office buildings, residential and for new construction, and not just for the state for the private sector as well. If they aren’t willing to do these efforts, and it won’t be a loss of money, it’ll actually be a savings to the business community. They don’t build, you know, they have to show energy efficiency and energy savings. You know, we have to encourage fuel switching to clean energy. You know, the governor’s plan says that road widening will reduce greenhouse gases. I mean, that’s nuts. You know, they say if you expand roads, cars will idle less, but we know there’ll be 1020 50,000 additional cars. So they are, you know, their effort is very misguided. But this legislation in front of us does a lot of things. It changes how we look at nothing. They said it to me 100 year life cycle, we say because of work of scientists and Mike and other people see can it could be a 20 year horizon. You know, they measure methane coming from landfills. Well, we now have airplanes that can capture atmosphere that are much more accurate. We are going to transform the state, but we need you. as Mike said, It’s a unique session, we’re going to have virtual hearings, people won’t be allowed in the building. So we need a massive upsurge. We need hundreds upon hundreds of people to confront every legislator to say, Are you on board? You know, there shouldn’t be a time when you have a conversation and send an email, can we count on your vote, because you won’t be there to see them in the hallway, we have to put pressure, we have to make people a little uncomfortable, but also to show them this benefits and state. You know, Mike mentioned a lot of the issues that the flooding etc. The biggest problem that’s starting to develop is saltwater intrusion. I mean, it is really our farms on the eastern shore, who are creating foodstuffs. So we have new additional allies, we think in the farming community. So we have to bring everyone together to do this. But we need you and again, I want to thank all of your staff for their great contribution. But this isn’t going to happen from a great speech on the floor by Paul Pinsky. It’s going to happen by hundreds and 1000s of people demanding a change. I think we can do it. We’re counting on you. Thank you.
Jamie DeMarco 11:32
Thank you very much, Chairman. We really appreciate that. Next, we’re going to hear from delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and let me tell you, there is no one in Annapolis who speaks about climate change with more passion than delegate David Frasier doggo. I think that’s a big statement. But I think it’s true. I mean, a lot of us when you talk about climate, we talk about co-benefits. We talked about all these other benefits that are going to come with climate action. When delegate David Frazier, it also talks about climate change. He reminds us that we are in a visceral existential fight for our lives. And in order to survive, we need to mobilize all we have to reduce emissions as quickly as humanly possible. He stood up for the clean energy jobs act when no one else would. And without him that legislation would not have passed. And delegate David Fraser Hidalgo, channels, all of that ambition into this bill, the climate crisis and Education Act. I’ll let him talk about it more.
David Fraser-Hidalgo 12:31
Well, thank you. Thank you, Jamie. I will try to do you justice. So the carbon pricing bill that I have, I have it along with Senator Ben Kramer, we’ve had it for three years now. And before I get into the meat of the bill, but I want to kind of talk a little bit about what Senator Pinsky alluded to, and that is, we are going to have a session. Last session was crazy the way just kind of imploded in the end. And now this session, we have a little bit better idea of what it’s going to look like on the House side, we’re going to be broken up into two sections, the annex section, which is going to be in the house office building, and then the general state house, we’ll have the other half of the Maryland State delegates, and we’re going to go in on January 13 for a few hours to get session going and then everybody will be home. You know, Senator Pinsky, myself delegate Chuck Cooney, and all of the delegates and senators will be, most of them will be working from home they will be. So exactly what that and what Jamie said earlier, it’s going to be a little harder to get a hold of people. So you’re going to have to be really creative. And you’re going to have to be diligent and you’re going to have to work really hard because we can’t and I can’t tell you how much we need your help. So on the carbon bill itself, as most of the people on this call know that there is approximately $100 billion, depending on how you define it, that are given away every year to the fossil fuel industry in the form of grants and tax credits and incentives for them to go out and dig holes in the ground to pull up dead dinosaurs. So what what this bill does is it says okay, well, if you’re going to burn all those dinosaurs, if we’re going to to burn all those fossil fuels, and pollute the earth and cause global warming and cause climate change, and do all the things that one of the things that are Pinsky said about the rising sea levels out on the eastern shore, that doesn’t, that doesn’t even take into consideration all the the whole west coast of this country burning to the ground or, you know, the violent storms that we have. Now, if that’s not enough for you. Just think about all of those costs for burning fossil fuels, all those costs, that doesn’t include the kids going into the emergency room for asthmatic attacks or premature births, or any of those things. So the totality and extra totality of all of those things together need to be paid for and they shouldn’t be just paid for by US citizens and the taxpayers. They should be paid for when you do business. So if you’re going to buy a gallon of gas and burn it, you shouldn’t be paying two bucks per gallon. You should be paying a lot more than that. If you’re new You’re paying a lot more than that you’re paying two to three times that. And for generations for over 100 years, we really haven’t been to security, the oil industry hasn’t really been paying the total cost of doing business. And so when we talk about leveling the playing field, which is what they often say, when we talk about electric vehicle tax credits, when we talk about solar tax credits, when we talk about wind turbines and generating renewable energy, when they, when they talk about that, they said, We just want a level playing field we’re against, it shouldn’t be any tax credits. And then my comment to them is okay, well then give back your 100 million dollar $100 billion a year, every year, the tax credits that will have a lengthy playing field, I usually add a couple of adjectives in my head, but I hold those back. I don’t say them publicly. And so that’s essentially what this bill does. I mean, the carbon bill, which I’ve been working on, Pete’s on the call, he has been working for years with Climate Exchange. And, and, and when she can, and Mike and everybody, it’s just a bit of big effort. Last year, we had the best hearing we’ve ever had, it was a really good hearing, we had, I think close to 70. co sponsors 65, or six co sponsors, we had a great bill hearing on the House side last year, and then kind of, you know, as the hearing was going on delegate recruiting I was talking with her earlier today. And she has, you do know that as you are in the middle of your hearing, the governor was shutting everything down, everything was shutting down in the middle of your hearing. So with COVID, we had a great bill hearing that brought a lot of great advocates to the table. And we hope to do that again this year. I don’t know what is going to happen this year with COVID, I think that there’s going to be a small number of bills that have to do with balancing the budget that get passed. And some of the bigger lifts, I don’t know how leadership is going to look at them, because they don’t want a lot of Florida debate. Everybody’s worried about COVID. So anything that’s controversial, that’s going to get a lot of Florida bait is going to be harder, it’s just going to be harder this year.
But with that said, it’s a great opportunity for us to push forward on this bill. And one of the great things about this bill is it generates hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and that and the big part of the bill makes sure that those people and lower income earners get rebated and get made home. So we don’t worry about necessarily the low income earners, this is really going after those folks that can afford to pay for it. And to some degree, it’s going to be put back on the backs of the fossil fuel industry. So depending on how the final bill comes out, it’s a 47 page bill, it’s very complicated, and there are so many things that can change in the middle of it. But that’s that’s it, I mean, it’s just really an attempt to kind of level the playing field. So people know what when they stick that pump, you know, into their car, and they pump gasoline in or when they burn natural gas at home or methane at home. Or when they, you know, turn on their heat they’re actually thinking about a little bit where that electricity is coming from, we just really have to, we really have to transition yesterday as quickly as you possibly can toward the electrification of the grid through renewables. And we can do that. And that’s what this bill really helps to do. And I think that’s the big part of it is it just gets people thinking about what they’re doing. And there’s really not a, there’s really not a downside to it. So with that, I will stop and let us go the rest of the way. And then I’m happy to answer any questions at the end if anybody has any. Thank you very much.
Emily Frias 18:36
Yeah. So we kind of jumbled our order a little bit. And we skipped going to ask Senator Pinsky. And then we will do a question for delegate Fraser Hidalgo. So Senator Pinsky. The question I have is, so in your recent op ed, you mentioned the need to center black and brown communities and our conversation about climate change. Can you speak a little bit more about how the climate solutions bill will address those points?
Paul Pinsky 19:08
Thank you for that question. And as soon as I finish trying to cover the bill, there’s so many parts to it. I realized I didn’t talk about environmental justice. Yes, I’ve been an environmental justice commission for 10 years or more. But I have to tell you, it’s more that IT has been ignored. It’s been dismissed, and the Department of Environment has not paid any attention to it. Now, we’re told the administration is going to reinvigorate it and pay more attention. Well, we think people have to be accountable. So actually, in our bill and the climate solutions now act, we set up 345 charges to the new revamped commission. We say they have to define disproportionately affected communities, these poor black and brown communities, they have to talk about how much spending is going on there or not. and develop a tool to start using a lens To see how policy actually affects those communities, we also require the new commission to look at spending in those communities to make up for the lack of effort, the lack of focus over the many, you know, in urban areas, it’s been a total dismissal and it has to change. We think it can’t just be swept under the carpet, you know, we do some other things we say, of the 5 million trees 10% have to be in urban communities to, to have tree cover to capture carbon dioxide. But more than that, we have to use a lens every day, in every issue on the environment and beyond the environment. So as much as we can, and there’ll be other environmental justice bills, there’s a workforce that will come up with a restructuring of the condition, but we think they can’t dance anymore, they have to do something concrete. So we have a large section of the bill that will hold them accountable. Because it’s been way too long. It’s been over time where there has to be a better focus. You know, asthma, and other illnesses are affecting the black and brown community in Baltimore, Prince George’s and other areas. There’s been a lot of the facilities, the coal fired power plants have been around Baltimore, Baltimore County, North Adelanto County, and those communities have been affected, you know, and their cumulative effects as well. So it is a major part of our bill, I’m glad you asked that question. I was on the phone today on a zoom call with Dr. Jacoby Wilson, who’s a professor at Maryland, and has done a lot of work on this. So we’re going to ensure that no one is left behind. And in fact, those that have been left behind addressed first.
Emily Frias 21:52
Thank you so much for your answer. All right. Our next question is for delegate Fraser Hidalgo. And the question is, can you speak to the fiscal note for the climate crisis in Education Act? Just what is that looking like? Has it changed from last year? What do you expect to see?
David Fraser-Hidalgo 22:13
So we don’t have the fiscal note back, it’s probably going to be similar to that of what it was last year, and I’m not particularly concerned with the fiscal note, because it’s very, very positive for the state. So it’s not like the state has to lay out tons of money or, you know, millions of dollars in order to make sure this goes in the staff set. It’s just going to be so much. I mean, the benefit of the bill is that there’s going to be, you know, three to $500 million that starts to come in within a few years. So the, the issue with the bill isn’t the fiscal note is as much as it is, it is convincing leadership that the climate crisis is not now the climate crisis isn’t tomorrow, the climate crisis has been going on for, you know, 50 years or 40 years, at least, the oil companies very well know, their scientists very well knew, by the 1970s, what was going on, and they continue to do things anyway. So it’s just really getting people up to speed on this is real, and we can’t wait. And we have to elevate crisis issues, the climate crisis issues to the same level that we talk about when we talk about education. So there are big things that Annapolis we talk about, that are the big drivers in Annapolis education, public health care, public safety, those kinds of things. And quite frankly, the environment needs to be up on that same level not below not an afterthought. It needs to be on the same level as the other things if, if not higher, and the a lot of environmental justice is addressed in in my villas, as well and delegate Stein was on a briefing call that we did the latino caucus in the black caucus in the Asian American Pacific Islander caucus did a briefing a few about a month and a half ago. And it was only on environmental justice. It was a great, great briefing.
Jamie DeMarco 24:01
Thank you delegate. Next we’re going to hear from delegate Charkoudian and delegate Charkoudian, as I think most of us on this call know is a force in this world like nothing I have ever encountered before. When the Maryland clean energy jobs act was on the ropes in 2019. We weren’t sure if it was going to pass. She was rightfully chosen to represent it on the floor and her brilliant defense of the bill ensured that it was passed. Just in her first term as a state delegate. She has built a reputation and positioned herself at the very center. She is sort of the center node of climate policy. in Annapolis. There’s some legislators who love to dive into the details of policy, some who love the politics of policy. delegates are comedians and are the rare legislator who masters both and I can’t speak enough about her reputation, not just today. I was talking to a delegate, who said when delegates are kuhnian brings me a bill and asks for my co sponsorship. I don’t have Have you read it, I just signed up, because I know that she only brings good bills. And that’s the kind of reputation she’s built for herself. And I think that is represented in the bill. She’s sponsoring the Public Service Commission climate test, Bill, and I’ll let her talk about it more.
Lorig Charkoudian 25:17
Wow, that is what my mother wrote for you, Jamie, thank you, I am honored to be here. I’m honored to be here with ckn, who I have so much respect for and and with all of you and I see faces and names that I know are crucial to really getting good climate legislation through in Annapolis. And, I’ll just give a shout out. Also, before I get started, for the polar bear point, I gotta think of something really creative. Mike, I don’t know what we’re gonna do this year. But my daughter and I have done the polar bear plunge for like the last nine years together. So we’re good. So I can’t recommend it enough. And I’m sorry, we can’t do it together. So my bill this year is for the Public Service Commission to have to consider climate and labor in their decision making. And what’s wild about this bill is as I talked to people about it, if you don’t know the Public Service Commission makes decisions related to and regulating the utilities in the state. So this includes making decisions about new energy generation facilities. It also includes decisions about rate setting and rate making, mergers, pipelines, so all kinds of energy decisions and regulatory decisions related to energy are made by the Public Service Commission. And when I tell people that the Public Service Commission is required to consider things like localized environmental issues, they’re required to consider the economy of the state at reasonable rates. But they are not required to consider climate in their decision making. People are stunned. And it is wild to me that in 2020, with the crisis that we’re in, we somehow still are at a place where our Public Service Commission doesn’t have to consider climate and their decision making. And in case anyone was wondering if maybe we didn’t have it in statute, but they believed and understood that they were supposed to consider it in their decision making. We had a chance two years ago to find out that No, in fact, in a decision, and many of you, I see some Howard County folks on here, who were active in the in the fight on the the transition of the crane plant, to natural gas facility, and in the complaint made the case that actually climate change would affect the plant itself. So it wasn’t that the plant would affect climate change, although that was true as well, but the climate change would affect the plant. And the judge ruled and the commission backed up explicitly that the Commission is not required to consider climate change in their decision making. So in case we had any doubts about it, now we know for sure, so that led to us putting this bill together. And what the bill says is, basically they have to consider climate change. And there’s a couple of different places where this is important. I think it’s important, certainly in the cpcm process, which is the certificate for public CPC convenience in need, which is the decision making around the placement and the rules around the actual generation facility. So that’s considering climate change in deciding to authorize a new natural gas plant, or considering climate change in the decision making around a utility scale solar project. And so in both of those you want climate to be considered in one case, it would be sort of a reason to slow down or have to mitigate a project and the other it would be a reason to move it and move it faster along.
But also in every decision that’s made, and that’s really important, because for example, there was a merger, folks may be aware that the Washington gas Alta gas merger that occurred a couple years ago, the Public Service Commission approved the merger, and the Hogan administration and the Maryland energy administration asked that part of that merger be that 30 million $30 million be set aside for a natural gas expansion fund. Yes, in 2018, a natural gas expansion fund that is now being used to promote natural gas and this pipeline on the eastern shore. And the Public Service Commission authorizes that. And so again, it’s one of those things where in every decision they make that means in mergers, also they need to consider climate change. And so again, it would be a case where, where people too, and people did push against that particular merger decision. But that component of state statute would have required that the Public Service Commission consider that in a merger. So those are just a few very specific examples. But when we look at all of the decisions the Public Service Commission makes, it’s really important that climate is front and center. The other thing that this bill does is it requires that the Public Service Commission consider labor and I think folks know that we really need to be if we’re going to have a green sustainable, healthy, just future, equitable future. We’ve got To do that with environmentalists and labor unions working hand in hand with environmental justice communities, and really keeping labor, family sustaining wages, environmental justice, equity, and reduction of greenhouse gases, making sure we’re building policies where all of those are intertwined and linked. And so it’s really important that when we’re looking at the institutions that are going to build this green future, that they are considering climate, and that they’re considering labor and labor standards. And so this bill really gives us a chance to put those together in the same bill highlight and work in partnership with C can is a lead on this year, a club is supporting this, and laina labor union. This is one of their priority bills this year, as well. And so, it’s a really important partnership. And it’s, you know, we’re not always on the same page. But whenever we can be on the same page, and the more we can work together to build that green, sustainable family sustaining wages, economy, we need to be doing that. And this bill is a great opportunity to highlight that. So I’m really excited to be bringing this bill, I look forward to working with all of you in Annapolis, even if it’s virtually in Annapolis, and then hopefully celebrating together in person over the summer, or fall next year.
Emily Frias 31:22
Great, thank you so much. So we have some good questions here. If this bill is passed in this upcoming session, might it have an impact on the Del Mar pipeline and the Chesapeake utilities project?
Lorig Charkoudian 31:41
I think the short answer is, is it Yes, I suspect it would in some ways. I don’t know that it would stop it. Just because that’s the approvals have kind of come through already through a variety of sources. And people know that that’s been an obscure kind of and run around the state’s climate policy. But I think that there will be some decisions related to that project that will have to go to the Public Service Commission. And so it could influence to some extent how that plays out.
Mike Tidwell 32:16
I also want to give a plug to another bill that we’re not talking about a lot tonight, that Lord’s gonna be sponsoring and that’s the Community Choice energy bill that would allow our county Montgomery County as a pilot to basically control its electric electrical destiny by taking control of our grid. And it’s the top priority of our county of 1.1 million people to meet his climate reduction goals, which are frankly beyond even what Maryland’s doing. And so I want everyone to keep a lookout for Lawrenceville Community Choice energy, a really, really important paradigm shifting bill, so we want to support that as well.
Jamie DeMarco 33:00
I want to thank our three sponsors, I know that your time is really valuable. So thanks for answering questions each and don’t feel like you need to stay on if you feel like you need to drop off. Anthony, if you could share a screen, I’m just gonna run through the bills we just heard about and go over the provisions in them one more time to make sure it sticks. So climate solutions now. It requires us to reduce our emissions 60% by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2045. It requires that a certain percentage of all state funds going forward be spent on climate change, and go to underserved frontline communities. And that percentage will be decided by the Commission on Environmental Justice and sustainable communities. This is a pivotal piece of the bill. This is going to make it illegal not to invest in underserved frontline communities. This is modeled off of the New York bill, the New York climate leadership and community Protection Act, which is widely considered the gold standard of environmental justice policies around the country at the state level. This also creates a workgroup to protect fossil fuel workers and enact a series of policies that will reduce emissions immediately like planting 5 million trees. And two thirds of all the funds that go to plant those trees will be spent in urban communities that have been historically redlined. We know when these oppressive heat waves come they’re killing people. And they’re killing people and heating islands where there are no trees disproportionately. Also zero emission vehicles, reductions in existing buildings, everything. Chairman Pinsky talked about the public service Service Commission climate test that’s a lorex bill, this is not in the order of sponsors. So it’s just keeping you on your toes, making sure you’re paying attention, and it requires the Public Service Commission to consider climate change when deciding whether to approve a project or merger. Just consider that that’s all it does, and also requires companies applying for energy prices. At the Public Service Commission to disclose the benefits they would give to their workers. This is a key place where we are building an ally ship with labor. When we’re with labor, we’re strong when we’re against labor, we lose. And so we need to find every opportunity we can to work alongside labor. And the climate crisis and Education Act invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year into clean energy, climate resiliency, and just transition. It also puts $350 million a year into public education. Because we know this is an intersectional fight between public education, and disparities and public education are one of the greatest drivers of racial disparities across the board. It also raises these funds directly from shareholders while protecting consumers and giving every marylander a rebate. And that is our quick summary. I’m going to turn it over to Anthony to talk about our pipeline work. Great,
Anthony Field 35:54
Thank you so much, Jamie. And again, thank you to the three legislators that were able to join us again. We understand your time is valuable and very appreciative to have three leaders here on the call on discussing such important pieces of legislation tonight. So for those of you don’t know me, my name is Anthony field I use he him his pronouns, and I am the campaign lead for C. Cannes no new fossil fuels campaign, working on issues such as advocating for stronger landfill methane regulations, making sure methane is adequately evaluated within our state, stopping retiring coal fired plants from converting the gas fighting gas infrastructure and brand new wind on the eastern shore and other possibly proposed infrastructure as they come up a number of things that were talked about by all three legislators on the call today, and I’ll have parts within the pieces of legislation that we’re discussing. But today, I want to touch on one specific issue. And that is the issue of the Eastern Shore pipelines and where we’re at on that front. So for those of you who do not know, there are two proposed pipelines on the eastern shore, the Del Mar pipeline, seven miles of pipelines shown on the left image here in yellow, and 11 miles of pipeline, called the Chesapeake utilities project, shown in red here on the right. Both of these pipelines cross multiple wetlands and waterways, both will impact air quality to the communities and threaten the land that they live on. Both will saddle already overburdened communities with a pipeline we know that the state should not be advocating for in light of our climate commitments and our emission goals. Both are being pushed through as part of Governor Hogan’s plan to invest millions into expanding fracked gas, which is what delegate lorig was referring to with the 30 over $30 million. It is worth noting that when requesting applications for energy sources, the state only requested applications from gas companies, only one company applied, that was Chesapeake utilities. They were selected. And then the Maryland environmental service stated that the process was both exhaustive and competitive. We obviously know that that was not true. If nothing else, taking away the community’s opportunity of a thorough vetting of alternatives is a grave injustice. So take one more look at this map and the path here. And on this screen, you are seeing the census tracks from a spatial analysis that was conducted, showing that the project will run through majority minority and low income communities. on this call. We’ve already talked about the issue of environmental justice multiple times. And here we are seeing, again, a specific example of environmental justice concerns when we’re talking about climate, but also fossil fuel infrastructure. Specifically, there are only four of the 41 mile study area tracks within this area that are not ej eligible. ej eligible means that more than 30% of the residents are minorities, and or 20%, or more live in poverty. Make no mistake, this pipeline will further burden these communities by endangering their water, land, air quality and health. And this pipeline is an environmental justice issue. On December 2, the Maryland Board of Public Works chose to ignore the many and justices in approving a key permit for the Del Mar pipeline, which is again one of two pipelines.
Leading up to that vote a lot happened in the recent months and I want to cover some of the things here. So as mentioned just now a commission study uncovered troubling environmental justice issues. The Maryland State NAACP chapter added the pipeline’s to their list of environmental justice priorities and local chapters took a stance in opposition. CCAN with the help from our partners with the Maryland chapter of Sierra Club and the local Wicomico environmental trust released a white paper outlining concerns about the economics of these pipelines. We know that investing in pipelines and gas infrastructure is a gamble at best with multiple companies facing bankruptcy and pipeline projects failing all across the nation. Something new that we discovered was that the Acting Director of the Maryland environmental service stated that therefore the decision to forego applications from renewable energy sources was based on a 2012 Request for Information report, where almost a decade ago they determined that renewables wouldn’t be adequate. But a lot has changed in the years since that, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the decision to forego alternatives was based on such an old report. Additionally, the Maryland climate commission or the Commission on climate change, released their 2020 report calling for the state to reach net zero emissions by 2045. And for the state government to consider environmental justice impacts during project planning. I hope you’re seeing a trend here. There is a lot of talk about environmental justice, and that’s because it’s largely been ignored and underappreciated in the past. Additionally, over 700 letters were sent by Eastern Shore residents urging the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject the pipeline’s that’s over 700, specifically from people that are from the communities that this pipeline will impact. So as mentioned, on December 2, the Board of Public Works held a hearing where they voted three to zero to approve a key permit for the Del Mar pipeline. What does this mean? Well, it means that the Board of Public Works ultimately ignored the multiple issues raised by CCAN partner organizations around the state and most importantly, they ignored concerns from residents of the local communities I call the shore home, it means that this fight is not over. And we know that we will not give up. See, Ken will continue to fight and organize against the pipeline, including the upcoming vote for the Chesapeake utilities portion, which is expected to come in the early months of January. I anticipate around March or so we will do everything we can to stand with the local communities and amplify their voices. This is their land, their health on the line. And we want to be sure that we are doing everything we can to advocate for them. It was clear since the beginning that this would be a fight. And I NRC can in the hundreds of concerns Eastern Shore residents will stop fighting. I think it’s worth mentioning that at this hearing many supporters of the pipeline, including the Lieutenant Governor Rutherford, who chaired the hearing, had the talking point that only western shore elitists and big green organizations were posted this pipeline, and we were trying to keep and take away the choice of these communities to use gas. And I think that is a grave. That is willfully ignoring the hundreds of Eastern Shore residents and locals that have put their blood sweat and tears into fighting this pipeline, and who are just very concerned about the health and well being of their communities and their land. And I think the Lieutenant Governor stating that and the supporters of the pipeline stating that was entirely disrespectful to those members. And I also want to mention that there were a number of people in line to comment at that Board of Public Works hearing, including elected officials that were not called upon to speak on behalf of the eastern shore. And I can’t tell you enough how disappointed I am in the way the state has been conducting themselves with regards to the process of this energy infrastructure and the approval process and the hearing process of these pipelines. And I think the eastern shore has been given the cold shoulder often in the past and they deserve better. So what’s next, and how can you get involved? So I only touched on one major issue this evening. And that was Eastern Shore pipeline. But there are many important things that we are working on simultaneously within our new fossil fuels campaign. And I urge everyone to follow a link in the chat that I’m about to put in to sign up for one of the action teams listed here. There’s five major action teams focusing on different issues across the state, methane, the eastern shore pipelines, the Potomac pipeline and the rockwool power plant, public health and environmental justice and of course, no new fossil fuels legislation, which is including the climate crisis and Education Act and the PSE climate test. joining these teams will allow you to keep up to date on everything that’s going on within those issues, but also provides you with opportunities to
act and support our fights for those issues. So please stay engaged, stay informed, and continue helping us advocate for fossil fuel free, Maryland. Thank you very much, everybody. And now I’m going to go ahead and hand it over to Emily.
Emily Frias 44:45
Thank you so much, Anthony. And go ahead and put that link in the chat for the new fossil fuels teams. Definitely a really important way to fight to stay engaged. Alright, so I’m going to Keep my slides very short so that we have time to get to several questions. I’m just going to go over quickly, how you can stay involved. So we have a number of events lined up for the legislative session that you should mark your calendars for right now. The next one is going to be next Tuesday. That’ll be our letter writing party for climate solutions. Now, we will be watching, we’ll be writing letters and watching a year without a Santa Claus, which is about characters, you’re not familiar with the stop motion animation film from the 70s. And it is about an unseasonably warm Christmas. So very fitting for climate activists, then on the world holiday break, and then well, we’ll, we’ll all have very little time, after the holidays before the legislative session starts on January 13, that Wednesday, is the first day of session. So really coming up quickly. So throughout the session, what we’d like you to do is call email and tag legislators regularly. But especially before the vote, we will be sending you actions. So please make sure that you’re paying attention to your inbox, as well as communicating with us through our smaller channels to make sure that you’re staying aware of when it’s time to really reach out to your legislators. Then, on the week of the 25th, we will be having our lobby week for the climate crisis in Education Act, which is working with our partners on that campaign. So lobby week is obviously going to be a little different this year, we would normally have this one Bobby day. But this year, we’re putting an emphasis on having virtual meetings. So we’ll be walking you through that process, the more that we learn, and hopefully, we’ll have a lot of success in reaching out to our legislators. And then the week of the 22nd of February, we’ll be having our lobby week for the climate solutions bill and the PSC climate test. So the reason that we’ve split up these two lobby weeks is that both the climate crisis and Education Act is a very complicated bill. So is the credit solutions bill. So we wanted to give both bills and equal shots of really, really showcasing what they have to offer in our lobby meeting. So that is why we made that decision. Hopefully, there’s enough time in between that you’ll be able to attend both. And then at the end of March and early April, if our bill has still not moved, our bills have still not moved, we are planning to have some safe in person actions. But we are, you know, we’re it’s hard to plan too far ahead on those things. So we will keep you informed. Okay, so how to stay involved. Stay in touch with Anthony and the no new fossil fuels kit campaign by signing up for an action team, we just sent you that link, you can stay in touch with me and the climate solutions campaign by joining our slack workspace, which I will share in the chat link to join. Or you can email me directly at Emily at Chesapeake comet.org to be added to our smaller Google group. And if you need help with Slack, if you’re new to slack, it is a tool that is used by so many and has been used successfully by so many political campaigns during the elections. And it’s a great way to stay in touch instantaneously with other concerned citizens and concerned volunteers. And if you’re not as familiar, we have done training on slack. We have great training on our website, visit our volunteer resource page. Or honestly, if you have a lot of questions and you really, really want to use a tool, please email me directly. I do occasionally have office hours to be able to explain these tools to folks.
Unknown Speaker 49:03
Emily Frias 49:05
So with that, we are going to take a few questions. I hope that wasn’t too quick. I’m also going to share our event and our link to our climate solutions slack. And while folks go ahead and join that, I’m going to ask myself to read out a question that we got earlier. So this question was about the carbon pricing bill. And the question was, does this still have any elements? That would be a non-starter for republicans? And how do we address that?
Jamie DeMarco 49:52
Anthony, do you want to take that ticket?
Anthony Field 49:55
Oh, feel free Jamie.
Jamie DeMarco 49:57
Um, you know, Republican In Maryland have a tendency to surprise us. Governor Hogan surprised us when he expressed his strong support for the fracking ban even when democratic leadership wasn’t there yet. And, you know, last year, when we passed the climate solutions act out of committee, two republicans surprised us by voting for it. And that really surprised us there, too. We think this is a really good bill. I don’t think there’s anything in it that will make all republicans flee from it. I think a lot of the extreme ones are not going to be gravitated towards this. But we don’t give up on republicans but at CCAN we’re not necessarily counting on them to vote for this bill. Luckily, we’ve got super majorities of Democrats in both the House and the Senate. We do want Governor Hogan to sign it. So if this bill passes, then if any of these bill pass, then you should be making sure you should be looking after the calling campaign to Governor Hogan to make sure that he doesn’t veto it. Great question. Mike, did you want anything? Anything?
Emily Frias 51:13
Okay. The next question is about the PSC climate test. Does the climate and labor test have binding language? Or is it just to consider these things? Like what? What is it that they’re going to be bound to do by the skill?
Jamie DeMarco 51:37
The labor piece is really binding. If you’re applying, you have to fill this out. This is information that has not been disclosed in the past, and has to be disclosed now under this law. So that’s really finding the climate peace is a considered peace. It’s not saying you have to reject every single pipeline, or every single fossil fuel project. But it’s saying consider climate change. And we know that if we can consider climate change there, then we can win on the merits. We lose right now at the Public Service Commission, because they say we explicitly do not consider climate change. We’re like, it’s gonna destroy the climate. And they’re like, the legislature has not asked us to consider climate change among the list of things that they have asked us to consider. So we are not going to consider that. So this is getting into the debate. And then we are going to have to win the debate at the Public Service Commission.
Emily Frias 52:31
Great, thank you. And then the final question on the climate solutions now, Bill. So what is different about this bill there, there was a bill last year the climate solutions act, what is different this year? That wasn’t in the bill last year.
Jamie DeMarco 52:53
This bill is very similar to the bill last year, one of the biggest differences is the tree portion. Last year, we introduced a bill and just said to plant 5 million trees. This year, we said it’s not enough to just plant trees, we need to plant trees, where they’re needed most in communities that don’t have access to green space, and are hurt because of that. And so we added this environmental justice provision making sure that two thirds of all the money spent planting these trees is planted in urban underserved areas that have been historically redlined. That’s one of the biggest differences. A lot of the other provisions are the same. There’s some other pieces like it that require new large buildings with lots of roof space to be solar ready. And that wasn’t in there before. And obviously, a lot of the years have been changed, because we’re one year later now. But for the most part, it’s the same bill. Jamie, if I could add, Yes, Senator,
Paul Pinsky 53:51
Among the people who helped shape the bill, we call on the architects. And they played a very good role progressive architects across the state. So a lot of the language around either new construction or large renovation or building in schools is more nuanced. And we brought in the experts. So you know, sometimes you take language from another bill, or you do a 30,000 foot statement. But we actually got some of the experts who’ve done some kind of visionary activity. So there are a number of pieces of Bill where it’s more subtle, it’s more nuanced, that we think can apply to the state of Maryland, and really move our environment forward. And at the same time, in many cases, the business community should benefit not lose. So look, well, some of them oppose the bill. Absolutely. But we think we can also make an argument that a strong dynamic environment is also good for the business community. So we touch the trees that Jamie said, ensuring that some percentage goes to the urban area. So, you know, the other fact is that we continued working on the bill in the mid February last year. As someone who was responsible, it probably wasn’t ready for primetime. We spent the summer in the fall with a lot of environmental experts trying to get this right. We think it’s a great bill, we can go put us in the top tier nationally in the top three, or maybe five bills in the country in terms of the omnibus approach to the bill. So a lot of the same, some changes.
Emily Frias 55:37
Thank you so much. There’s one we don’t have time for many more questions. There’s one that’s very easy to answer that I see in the chat. There’s a 60% emissions reductions goal including only electricity or all emissions, I believe it is all emissions.
Emily Frias 55:57
And with that, we are right at eight, eight o’clock. So thank you so much to everyone who joined. We had a wonderful turnout for this event and are always honored as the organizer to see that. So thank you, thank you, also to our legislators, and to everybody who joined, we really hope that you stay in touch with us and we can end the session with a number of wins. So thank you, and have a wonderful night.
Charles Olsen 56:31
Thanks for listening to Upside down. This podcast is produced by me, Charlie Olsen. with incredible support from the entire CCAN staff. Check out the show notes for links to all the things discussed in this episode. If you want to know more about how you can get involved with CCAN and the climate fight, check out our website at chesapeakeclimate.org. If you want to get in touch with us, follow us on instagram and twitter @CCAN. And if you enjoy the work we do, why don’t you share it with your friends. Sharing the show is a super easy way to help spread the word about the work we’re doing in the fight for bold climate actions. Thanks again for listening. We’ll see you next time.