Rallying Public Support to Make Maryland a Climate Leader
VICTORY: THE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS NOW ACT PASSED!
After years of hard work by CCAN and our partners, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 passed in Maryland!
This bill sets one of the most ambitious climate pollution reduction goals in the country, of 60% statewide reductions by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045 — which is in line with what the top scientists are calling for as necessary to avoid the climate crisis. By establishing the Building Energy Performance standards, Maryland now becomes one of only a handful of states addressing the emissions that come from buildings. With the passage of this bill, Maryland leads the way on climate equity and environmental justice by prioritizing overburdened and underserved communities in mitigation efforts. It also invests in climate-focused jobs within the Maryland Chesapeake Conservation Corps.
This bill went through the wringer and our advocates were its lifeline. Though we didn’t get everything we wanted, this bill lays the groundwork for the climate action we will need throughout the next few years. Bill sponsors and climate champions Senator Paul Pinsky, Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Dana Stein, Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, and Delegate Regina Boyce deserve a huge thanks for all their hard work on this bill. And of course, the thousands of activists and Maryland residents who showed up, lobbied their legislators, turned out at dozens of rallies all helped push this bill over the finish line. Keep reading to learn more about the bill, then donate to help us achieve future climate victories!
Maryland just passed the Climate Solutions 2022 legislative agenda in the form of the “Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022” (Senate Bill 528). This bill will aggressively decarbonize the top-emitting sectors. This includes setting emissions reduction goals and outlining specific actions to meet those commitments.
Here’s what the Climate Solutions 2022 agenda will do:
Strengthen Emissions Reduction Requirements
Our state’s previous climate plan to reduce emissions — proposed by the Hogan Administration in 2019 and legally mandated under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) of 2016 — was outdated, flawed, and not strong enough to get us the results that scientists tell us we need. The world’s top scientists at the United Nations found that we need to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average to avoid catastrophe. If we do NOT set more aggressive carbon-reduction goals, the planet would warm well past this threshold, and Maryland could see significant changes in precipitation, sea-level rise, and habitability.
To secure a safe climate for Marylanders of all generations, we must drastically improve our climate action plan and put in place policies that will begin reducing emissions immediately. The Climate Solutions 2022 legislative agenda does exactly that! SB 528 will set a target of reducing emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2031 in order to reach net neutrality by 2045, and outline a plan to achieve that goal. They will also update our greenhouse gas accounting practices to ensure that we’re accurately measuring methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas.
Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in Maryland. SB 528 will enable us to lead by example and transition the state vehicle fleet and all public school buses to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV). And by targeting school bus electrification to benefit communities that have been most impacted by transportation pollution and underinvestment due to redlining and racial segregation, we can center our vehicle electrification policy in environmental and racial justice. CSN begins that process by:
- Requiring a portion of the passenger cars purchased for the state fleet be ZEV starting in the fiscal year 2023 and reaching 100% by 2031.
- Requiring a portion of all light-duty vehicles purchased for the state fleet be ZEV starting in the fiscal year 2028 and reaching 100% by 2036.
- Requiring all new contracts for the purchase or use of a school bus to be zero-emission vehicles, starting in 2025.
The climate crisis is also a social justice crisis: the communities least responsible for causing it are expected to face the brunt of the impacts.
The Climate Solutions Now Act aims to right this wrong by investing in climate justice by expanding the Chesapeake Conservation Corp to include positions that focus on achieving GHG reduction targets. These jobs could include clean energy projects, climate mitigation projects, or holistic retrofits of low-income households. Additionally, MDE will be required to establish strategies addressing environmental justice and advancing climate equity — including providing funds to disproportionately affected communities — by December 21, 2023.
The Act will also establish a Climate Catalytic Capital Fund to promote private capital investment and help weatherize low- and moderate-income households, among other things. Finally, it creates a Just Transition Employment and Retraining Working Group in coordination with local unions to protect workers from economic insecurity and ensure Maryland workers can learn the skills needed to thrive in the new energy economy.
Reduce Emissions from Buildings
Buildings emit 40% of Maryland’s greenhouse gasses (13% of which are direct emissions) and account for 90% of Maryland’s electricity use.
In the 2021 Annual Report and Building Energy Transition Plan, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change recommends that all new construction in the state meet water and space heating demands with all-electric appliances no later than 2024. The Commission found that all-electric new homes have lower construction and energy costs than mixed-fuel homes and therefore this recommendation would help improve housing affordability and local air quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.
Unfortunately, oil and gas lobbyists removed the provision that would mandate all-new electric construction. But the bill will direct MDE to create a Building Energy Performance Standard for existing buildings larger than 35,000 square feet to reduce the direct emissions from buildings by 20% by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. It also establishes a Building Energy Transition Implementation Task Force to study and make recommendations regarding the reduction of GHG emissions from buildings and retrofits of existing buildings.
States like New York, Washington, and Massachusetts are pursuing building electrification and Maryland cannot fall behind in this important sector!
Invest in our Grid
We know that to reach our climate goals we will need a grid that can support our more complex energy needs. By adopting provisions from HB88/SB525, Climate Solutions Now supports the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) distribution system planning process by establishing goals, harnessing federal funding, and requiring the PSC to adopt regulations for distribution system planning.
- CCAN Press Release: MD Commission on Climate Change Recommends All-Electric New Construction by 2024
- Factsheet: All-Electric New Construction: A Win for the Climate and Your Wallet.
- Op-ed: “Maryland, once a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, falls dangerously behind.” Donald Boesch, Baltimore Sun, 11/3/2021
- Op-ed: Del. Robbyn Lewis: “Maryland Needs to Act Boldly on Climate Change.” Maryland Matters, 11/12/2021
- “Opinion: Baltimore, Environmental Justice and Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda.” Larry Stafford, Maryland Matters, 10/12/2021
In March 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 1325, which will place a permanent ban on fracking in Maryland. The House of Delegates and the Senate both passed the bill with a bipartisan, veto-proof majority, sending it to be signed by Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
This move follows six years of organizing against the drilling practice from a grassroots movement that included farmers, doctors, students, faith leaders, environmental groups, and others. In the final year of the campaign 16 municipalities across the state passed bans, resolutions or statements of support in favor of a ban on this harmful drilling practice. During the legislative session over 600 grassroots activists lobbied in favor of a ban on hydraulic fracturing and over a 1000 people took to the streets in Annapolis for a march and rally. In the last days of the campaign, a group of 13 faith leaders and western Maryland residents were peacefully arrested in support of the fracking ban bill while it was being debated in the Senate, and one day later, Gov. Hogan reversed course to announce his support for a fracking ban.
Maryland will now become the first state in America with proven gas reserves to ban fracking by legislative action. It sets a nationally significant precedent as other states grapple with the dangerous drilling method. From Virginia (where leaders have imposed or proposed local bans at the county and municipal level) to the state of Florida (which is looking to follow Maryland’s statewide ban), the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement is gaining new bipartisan steam. Read more here.
In neighboring states and across the nation, evidence is mounting that drilling and fracking for natural gas leads to polluted air and water, serious health problems, earthquakes and economic losses for local communities.
In Maryland, a growing grassroots movement has kept fracking at bay — for now. In the 2015 Maryland General Assembly, CCAN worked with over 70 groups in the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition to put a 2.5 year moratorium on fracking. Thanks to thousands of email and calls, lobby, meetings, actions and more, Governor Larry Hogan let HB 449 become law on May 29th, 2015. This bill puts a hold on drilling in Maryland until October 2017.
But the gas industry began maneuvering to put fracking on the fast-track as soon as the moratorium would lift. There were over 100 groups working with the Don’t Frack Maryland Coalition to pass a ban on fracking in the 2017 General Assembly session. Our mission is to build an even more powerful grassroots movement to put a permanent, statewide ban on fracking by October 2017.
When the General Assembly came back in full-swing, our movement to ban fracking in Maryland moved at full-speed. The Maryland House of Delegates answered our movement’s call on March 10, 2017, when they passed House Bill 1325 to ban fracking with a bipartisan vote of 97-40. Just one week later in a historic move, Republican Governor Larry Hogan announced his support for a permanent statewide ban on fracking. Governor Hogan’s announcement came one day after 13 brave Marylanders were peacefully arrested outside of the State House to demand a ban on fracking. Soon after, the Senate finalized the ban on this risky drilling practice once and for all by putting Senate Bill 740 over the finish line.
Download the CCAN fracking activist toolkit: Get your city to endorse a ban on fracking.
Join the movement to ban fracking in Maryland: Email Brooke Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
The Fracking Threat in Maryland
The science shows that fracking threatens the air we breathe and the water we drink, while also worsening climate change.
Maryland’s Garrett and Allegany Counties sit atop the Marcellus Shale gas basin and are on the front lines of potential fracking in the state. But the threat is statewide. Across Maryland, five different gas basins stretch underneath our communities and could potentially be fracked by the gas industry. For instance, the Taylorsville gas basin stretches under one-third of Prince George’s County. A Texas-based company has already leased land to frack for gas in the Virginia portion of this same basin.
In 2011, Governor O’Malley issued a temporary, three-year executive order that put a hold on drilling permits in Maryland and created a commission to assess whether or not fracking poses unacceptable risks to Marylanders. The resulting studies warned of many significant risks — especially to our health — if fracking is allowed to proceed.
Marylanders Oppose Fracking
- A 2016 OpinionWorks poll found that Maryland voters support a ban on fracking by a 2-to-1 margin.
- In Garrett County, a prime target area for the oil and gas industry, the margin of support is more than 2-to-1, with 57% in support of a fracking ban and only 27% opposed.
- The latest Washington Post poll found that a similarly strong majority of Marylanders — 60 percent — oppose fracking.
The Facts on Fracking
Fracking is a dangerous drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale rock. It involves drilling “L”-shaped pipelines deep underground and pumping a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals through them at high pressures to crack apart the rock and release gas packed within. (The chemicals used in fracking include benzene, xylene and toluene, all of which are known carcinogens.) Significant volumes of fracking fluid come back up to the surface loaded with heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials. This hazardous wastewater poses an enormous disposal challenge and the toxic chemicals in fracking fluid threaten to leach into our drinking water. The industrial well pads, machinery and truck traffic that come along with the drilling process disrupt rural towns, straining infrastructure, clogging roads, and adding to noise and air pollution.
The evidence is mounting showing fracking is dangerous to our health. Especially concerning, researchers are finding associations between proximity to oil and gas development and increases in birth defects and other adverse birth outcomes. Because some effects may take years to show up, the nature and the severity of the long-term, cumulative health impacts of fracking and drilling are still unknown.
Fracking is a statewide threat in Maryland. The Marcellus Shale is probably the best known gas basin in the nation. It’s an enormous underground rock formation that spans areas from New York to Virginia, including Maryland’s Garrett and Allegany counties. But that’s not all: Maryland sits atop not one, but five gas basins that the natural gas industry could frack.
Over 100 groups (and counting) in Maryland added their names to a position statement calling for a ban on fracking – from climate groups like CCAN, to river keepers, outfitters, service unions, public interest organizations, health groups, farmers and faith groups.
And local opposition to fracking was widespread across Maryland:
- Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, which together represent over a third of Maryland’s population, have effectively banned fracking.
- The Frostburg City Council, which represents the largest municipality in western Maryland, voted unanimously to approve two measures designed to protect local water supplies from the toxic drilling practice, including a ban in city-owned property in Garrett County.
- The Garrett County towns of Friendsville and Mountain Lake Park also banned fracking.
- Councilmembers in Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties have called for a statewide ban
- The Baltimore County Council passed a resolution urging a statewide ban on fracking.
- Read the full language of the House and Senate bills to ban fracking: House Bill 1325 // Senate Bill 740, February 2017
- CCAN Statewide Fracking Ban Factsheet, CCAN
- The Risks to Maryland, CCAN, February 2014
- Fact sheet: U.S. Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Systems: Academic Literature from 2014 and 2015.
- OpinionWorks poll and infographic: 68 percent of Marylanders want the General Assembly to put a hold on fracking.
- The Risks to Maryland: Read the summary of an independent analysis showing fracking poses high risks to Maryland.
- Read the full Shale Gas Risk Assessment for Maryland (PDF).
- Map of Maryland’s Gas Basins
- Learn more about methane from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- “Maryland just passed a fracking ban. I’m weeping,” CCAN blog, 3/28/17
- “Governor [Hogan] calls for ban on fracking in Maryland, The Washington Post, 3/17/17.
- “Anti-fracking activists arrested for blocking entrance to Md. State House,” The Washington Post, 3/16/17.
- “Maryland House overwhelmingly approves bill to ban fracking,” ThinkProgress, 3/10/17
- “Activists push for ban on fracking in Maryland,” The Baltimore Sun, 3/2/17.
- “As Maryland lawmakers consider fracking rules, advocates ready to fight for permanent ban,” The Baltimore Sun, 12/20/16.
- “As MD’s Fracking Moratorium Expires, Lawmakers Plan a Ban,” WYPR. 11/8/16.
- “The EPA Once Said Fracking Did Not Cause Widespread Water Contamination. Not Anymore,” InsideClimate News, 12/14/16
- “Thank you Prince George’s County for banning fracking! The movement against fracking in Maryland is growing,” CCAN Blog. 4/12/2016.
- “Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA,” Wolters Kluwer Health, 9/30/2015.
- “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking,” Physicians for Social Responsibility, 10/14/2015.