ANNAPOLIS—By an overwhelming, bipartisan margin of 100-37, the Maryland House of Delegates today gave final approval to legislation that commits the state to one of the strongest greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation. The bill requires Maryland to reduce climate pollution economy-wide by 40 percent below 2006 levels by the year 2030, deepening the state’s existing mandate first passed in 2009. Only California and New York have set higher climate goals, which were enshrined through executive action.
“This bold, and strikingly bipartisan, commitment to stronger climate action will help protect Maryland’s economy, health, and increasingly flooded shoreline,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “As the pace of climate disruption takes off, from record-shattering heat to record rates of sea-level rise, we must pick up the pace of action. Our climate-vulnerable state is now leading the way, showing that reducing carbon pollution is not a partisan question, but an urgent necessity.”
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 (HB 610/SB 323) renews and extends a landmark law first passed in 2009. That law requires Maryland to reduce emissions by 25 percent below 2006 levels by the year 2020. It also spurred the creation of Maryland’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan, which contains more than 150 programs designed to reduce emissions. According to a state study, Maryland’s existing climate programs are on pace to generate between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in net economic benefits and to create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs. The Senate approved the bolder 2016 bill by a 38-8 margin in late February.
The new, forty-percent emission reduction goal was unanimously recommended by Maryland’s bipartisan Commission on Climate Change last fall – including union leaders, business and environmental advocates, and six Republican cabinet secretaries from the Hogan administration. Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment, Ben Grumbles, and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce testified in support of the stronger target during bill hearings in Annapolis.
“By leading in carbon reduction, Maryland can simultaneously lead in creating new jobs and economic opportunities through clean energy,” added Tidwell, who also serves on the state’s climate commission. “The overwhelming support we see for more aggressive climate action in Maryland is no accident. It reflects years of statewide education and organizing, as well as the proven reality that climate solutions create jobs and grow our economy. In fact, Maryland lawmakers will ensure huge new gains for solar, wind, and good-paying jobs by also voting to expand our state’s renewable energy standard in 2016.”
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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. CCAN is building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions: www.chesapeakeclimate.org.