Twenty Years of Climate Victories

Click below to watch a video of our story. ..

..or click below to hear from our friends.

In 2002… CCAN was founded by our executive director Mike Tidwell at his home in Takoma Park. Now, we’ve grown to a staff of 25 with offices in Takoma Park, Richmond, and Norfolk. We run dynamic, hard-charging campaigns for clean energy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC, on Capitol Hill, and beyond. 

Over the decades, CCAN has helped create a growing network of allies to keep fossil fuels in the ground and support climate justice. We’ve established an advocacy group called the CCAN Action Fund to engage legislators and candidates on top issues. And we’ve achieved many amazing victories — see below — redoubling our efforts each year at the local, state, and national levels. We’re building a people’s movement to fight for a stable climate on all fronts. 

20th logos (866 × 1122 px)


The U.S. Congress passed landmark climate legislation that will include historic investments in the clean energy sector. Then a few days later, President Biden signed it into federal law. The Inflation Reduction Act is a $370 billion commitment to expand clean electricity and get us on the path to net zero while creating millions of jobs, lowering the deficit, and improving public health. 

After years of hard work by CCAN and partners, the Climate Solutions Now Act passed in Maryland. It sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60% statewide by 2031 and moves us towards broad electrification of vehicles and buildings. It also invests in climate-focused jobs within the Maryland Chesapeake Conservation Corps and targets climate investments in low-to-moderate income communities.

Chickahominy Power was  a looming threat since October 2016 when the project was first proposed. It was intended to be a merchant plant – meaning that it would supply energy into the regional grid for profit but not provide energy directly to Virginia customers. Our work still continues to keep new fossil fuel infrastructure out of Virginia >>>

All of Maryland’s new state buses – 100% – will be generating zero emissions after 2022! The state has also make a commitment to plant 5 million trees before 2030, with two-thirds of the tree-planting funds going to urban, historically-redlined and economically-disadvantaged areas. Read more here.

Carbon emissions from the transportation sector account for nearly half of all emissions in Virginia. And they disproportionately affect communities of color. By passing clean car standards legislation, the General Assembly ensured that Virginians will have access to cleaner vehicles that help improve public health, protect our environment, and expand consumer choice.

On July 5, 2020, after six years of dedicated and powerful opposition, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The ACP would have carried fracked gas for 600 miles from West Virginia, across the Appalachian Trail and into Virginia and the Carolinas, costing the people $8 billion and visiting immeasurable harm on the communities in its path. 

This historic bill reverses decades of bad energy policy in Virginia. It mandates the shutdown of most of the state’s coal plants by 2030 and all the state’s fossil fuel plants for electricity – including gas plants — by 2045. It opens the gate to the biggest offshore wind farms in America and turbocharges the spread of solar rooftops and solar farms.

Over the years, CCAN has joined with many other organizations to build a groundswell of opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic. More than 140 East Coast communities, including Wilmington, Virginia Beach, Charleston, and Savannah, and thousands of businesses, trade groups, and tourism associations have passed resolutions opposing Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.

These combined efforts led the Virginia General Assembly to pass a bill that blocks future oil and gas development off the state’s coastline! This was a great win for our coast and our climate. 

This landmark legislation transforms the way electricity is used in Maryland, making roof-top solar power and utility-scale solar common forms of generation in the coming years. It also kickstarts the state’s offshore wind industry, with incentives for 1200 megawatts of ocean-based power. And it increases Maryland’s renewable electricity standard to 50% of the total grid by 2030 while requiring the state to examine pathways for achieving 100% clean power by 2040. 

The construction of new crude terminals in Baltimore is banned! Over three years after launching a fight against a Texas oil company’s proposal for a new crude oil terminal in South Baltimore, a strong coalition of residents, advocates, and community leaders achieved a major victory for public health and safety, air and water quality, and the climate with the passage of the Crude Oil Terminal Prohibition.

100 percent of Washington, DC’s electricity will come from clean renewable power by the year 2032! This win also put in place enormous incentives for electric cars, set groundbreaking efficiency standards for existing buildings, and expanded a pollution fee on electricity, natural gas and home-heating oil. It then invests that carbon revenue in a special “Green Bank” for clean energy loans and efficiency and solar programs for low and moderate income residents.

In March 2017, the Maryland General Assembly placed a permanent ban on fracking in Maryland. This win was achieved through 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.

In June 2016, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved the Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Amendment Act of 2016, which expanded D.C.’s clean energy target to 50 percent by 2032. At these new levels, D.C. is now on par with other state clean energy leaders like California, New York, and Oregon in regards to RPS goals. Not only does the law increase the renewable requirements, but it also extends the alternative compliance payments for utilities that don’t meet these standards.

CCAN activists were instrumental in leading the grassroots backlash to the annual $64 tax on hybrid vehicles that had previously passed the Virginia General Assembly. More than 7,700 owners of Priuses, Civics and other hybrids joined with environmental activists in a petition drive seeking a reversal of the fee. It worked and the repeal passed with bipartisan support.

Since 2010, CCAN worked with the community in Frederick to fight the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator on the shores of the Monocacy River. In a 3-2 vote, Commissioners President Blaine Young and commissioners Kirby Delauter and David Gray voted to kill the $471 million incinerator project by canceling the contract and related permits.

On September 23, 2010 at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City, Maryland, CCAN and other advocates held our first town hall in the campaign to bring offshore wind power to the state. Over two and a half years later, on April 9, 2013, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 into law. This landmark legislation will put Maryland on the path to tapping our vast wind energy resource, by incentivizing over 200 megawatts of wind power ten miles off the coast of Ocean City. This is just the first step toward a goal of over 1,000 megawatts of ocean-based wind development in coastal Maryland.

One of the most aggressive energy efficiency laws in the country, EmPOWER directs Maryland utilities to reduce per-capita electricity usage and peak demand by 15 percent below 2007 levels by 2015. (In 2017, new EmPOWER Maryland legislation aimed at reducing Maryland’s electricity usage 25 percent by 2020.)​ 

The Maryland Clean Cars Act requires cleaner and more efficient cars to be sold in Maryland. This policy brought more hybrids to Maryland, reduced cancer-causing pollution, and took the first steps towards regulating carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas, from Maryland cars.

Maryland passed one of the strongest air pollution standards in the country. It required a 70 to 80 percent cut in ozone and mercury emissions by 2013.  It also directed Maryland to join the nation’s first and strongest regional cap-and-trade program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2007.

Building on the success of Maryland, CCAN helped achieve another legislative RPS victory in the neighboring District of Columbia. The new law required up to 11% of the Nation’s capital electricity to come from renewable sources by 2022.

CCAN’s first major legislative battle: Maryland’s RPS was signed into law in 2004. It required 7.5% of Maryland’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2019, and its passage marked the beginning of the modern clean energy movement in this region.

Over CCAN’s twenty years of grassroots advocacy, we’ve been fortunate to work with many wonderful climate leaders in the realms of government, nonprofits, and public policy.

As CCAN recently celebrated our twentieth birthday and twenty years of climate victories, we asked leaders to reflect on the state of climate policy over the years, and what’s coming next for the climate movement.

Watch the videos below to hear from the leaders themselves what we’ve done and what’s coming next!

No time to watch these great videos? No problem! Read below for highlights. 

Our Movement is #PeoplePowered!

Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-8) on the joys of surprise in activism: 

“Working with CCAN has been one of the great joys of my career. You never know what to expect. The first thing I ever did was try to get Mike Tidwell out of jail, or at least charges dropped against him, when he scaled NOAA. I’ve been swimming in sub-freezing temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of January with CCAN. We’ve worked to dramatically expand the state’s renewable energy portfolio in Annapolis. We’ve got the Green Maryland Act to make sure there’s composting and recycling in all the state government buildings and departments. I had such a great experience fighting for common, sensible things with CCAN… I want to credit Mike Tidwell for educating us two or three steps before the curve.”

Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman on the long road to improve Maryland’s electricity standard: 

“It’s been a long twenty-year partnership. Looking back on my very first term, we created one of the first Renewable Portfolio Standards in the nation. We’ve been playing around with that initial bill ever since. But it started back then. CCAN filled a void. Until then, I’d been told, there weren’t many grassroots organizations to help us build public policy initiatives in the clean energy space. … Way later, I would sponsor the Clean Energy Jobs Act. I’ll never forget how, in the House, the bill passed by one vote.”

Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve (D17) on the importance of understanding the legislative process: 

“You’re committed, you’re emotional, you’re optimistic, and you know how the legislative process works. CCAN understands how the game is played and they use the rules to win.” 

Baltimore City Councilmember Mark Conway (District 4) on how he got his start as a CCAN intern after reading Mike’s book, and how morals must drive organizing: 

“I started working as a communications intern at CCAN in 2006. I was inspired by Mike’s book The Ravaging Tide, which was my freshman year book at the University of Maryland. It spoke volumes to me at that moment… It set the foundation for me as a young adult. I think the lessons and opportunities on organizing and from a moral perspective on climate change and our duty to step up and do everything in our power to address it, started with my interaction with CCAN.” 

Maryland State Delegate Lorig Charkoudian (D-20) on making climate a priority, and stopping at nothing to get it done: 

“I have come into the General Assembly committed to make the climate crisis a top priority in my work, to respond to the crisis and build a clean energy economy that is grounded in justice and good jobs, and CCAN has been the perfect partner to work on this. From my very first session, we worked together to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. It was a tough one. A rollercoaster ride. But we got it done. Since then, CCAN highlighted the pandemic as a model of how bad things can be when we don’t take international climate policy seriously, the damage and destruction to human lives as well as the economy and the entire global community, leading to huge success with Climate Solutions Now Act. But as soon as that passed, Mike was on the phone with me asking, what do we do next?” 

Virginia State Rip Sullivan (D-48) on the remarkable effort it can take to pass a historic bill: 

“One of the remarkable things we were able to accomplish a couple years ago was the passage of the Clean Economy Act … Passing a piece of legislation like this frankly takes a small miracle. The bill could have died at least a dozen times. But having CCAN at the table with its expertise and enthusiasm and political savvy and strength as an organization, both from a political perspective and a technical perspective, was enormously helpful, and we couldn’t have gotten it done without CCAN’s help.” 

Shruti Bhatnagar, Chair of the MoCo Sierra Club on building coalitions: 

“We worked together on community solar, building and energy performance standards in Montgomery County, and it’s been great. We’ve organized rallies together, collaborated on writing op-eds, collaborated at being on community events to create awareness, and collaborated on strategy. We’re in a climate crisis and it’s really important we work together with other organizations and community activists, to make sure we’re bringing everyone together to create a stronger, more inclusive, and more just climate movement.” 

Leah Kelley, Staff Attorney of the Environmental Integrity Project on working in the court system to create change on climate: 

“In order to safeguard public health and the environment sometimes it’s necessary to access the court system. That might be in a situation where a polluter or an agency isn’t following what’s required under the law and we have to take them to court. In those situations, we partner with membership groups like CCAN in order to be able to access the judicial system. CCAN has members all over the state of Maryland, deeply caring and concerned people. It’s been a wonderful experience working with those members.” 

Nicole Renz, Former Legislative Director for DC Councilmember Mary Cheh on the how one tireless campaign for a carbon tax led to the strongest climate policy in the country: 

“I worked with Councilmember Cheh on the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, which was spurred by CCAN’s initiative to adopt a climate tax. The climate tax campaign was, shall we say, relentless, it went on for two years and it was incredibly effective. Without that campaign, we would not have had the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act and we would not have passed it, and that Act created the policies that are essential to getting the District to a fifty percent carbon emission reduction over this decade. “

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky (D-22) on the need to mobilize in the streets: 

“CCAN believes in creating what Jesse Jackson used to call street heat, and I hold the same belief. We can try to convince with logic and science some of my colleagues, but ultimately mobilizing thousands of people across the state is crucial to passing progressive legislation.”

Maryland State Treasurer Derek Davis spoke of CCAN activists’ success passing strong Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies year after year:  

“You’ve made a tremendous difference in the state’s renewable energy portfolio. There’s a climate crisis. When you first started, there were a lot of folks denying that. But there’s now a universal acceptance that this is where we are.

“Your battles haven’t been easy. You didn’t have the same weapons at your disposal as others. But you were tenacious, you were dogged, you guys really went after it. You have a heart for this country, a heart for this state.” 

Thanks for watching our videos, and thanks for your support!

Now take the next step and JOIN OUR TEAM as an Action Member.

Our Movement is #PeoplePowered!