We Passed Zero-Emissions Buses and 5 Million Trees in Maryland
In 2021, CCAN and CCAN Action Fund supported a groundbreaking climate bill called the “Climate Solutions Now” Act (SB 414/HB 583). This was a broad-ranging piece of legislation that would have mandated 60% emissions reductions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045 in Maryland — it was the big climate fight in the spring of 2021 for our grassroots members from across the state. Our climate champion legislators in Annapolis also introduced key provisions of the bill as stand-alone pieces of legislation to ensure their chances of passage. These stand-alone bills included the “Zero-Emission Bus Transition” Act (SB 137) and the “Tree Solutions Now” Act (HB 991). And while the “Climate Solutions Now” Act unfortunately failed to pass in 2021, these key provisions passed!
The bus transition bill will require 100% of new state buses to be zero emission after 2022, leading to a complete transition of the fleet to electric. This is a huge win for communities whose residents live near bus terminals and breathe in fumes from idle engines. And the tree solutions bill will require the state to plant 5 million trees over the next eight years, with two-thirds of the tree-planting funding going to urban, historically-redlined and economically-disadvantaged areas. This policy will explicitly help communities that have suffered from racist policies and significantly impact people’s everyday lives. By planting trees in urban areas, this bill will increase home values, reduce crime, lessen the heat island effect, create jobs, and improve quality of life. Governor Hogan did not sign either of these bills, nor did he veto them, allowing them to become law on May 28th. Read more here.
We Passed Community Choice Energy on Montgomery County
HB 0768 is a pilot program that will enable Montgomery County to negotiate on behalf of residents and businesses to both lower rates and move to a more rapid transition to renewable energy. This pilot program will be the first of its kind in Maryland.
Community Choice Energy is a win. It gives the democratically elected County officials control over where the County’s energy is sourced, and the power to negotiate lower rates for customers allowing it to both rapidly transition to renewable energy and decrease energy costs for consumers; costs which disproportionately affect our most vulnerable communities. Further, CCE can help Montgomery County protect its low-income and elderly residents who are often targeted by unscrupulous third-party energy suppliers that charge higher than standard offer service rates. That said, CCE provides for individual choice — Individuals can opt out of CCE and continue with the utility or third-party supplier of their choice.
We Defeated the Header Injustice Project
In 2020, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) proposed a massive pipeline project called the “Header Improvement Project” — a horribly misleading misnomer. CCAN called it the “Header Injustice Project” because it was a travesty of environmental injustice. The proposal was for three new gas pipelines, totaling 24 miles, and three new or expanded gas compressor stations from Northern Virginia, through the middle of the state, and to the shore in Hampton Roads. Key components of the project would run through majority-minority communities.
To fight this pipeline, CCAN joined with key allies to form the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition. During the height of the coronavirus crisis, we worked with the coalition to turn out hundreds of Virginians to virtual public meetings, led Twitter storms, and highlighted to the media the environmental racism that this project embodied . And our efforts worked! On June 26, 2020, the Virginia State Corporation Commission issued a preliminary ruling against the Header Injustice Project because the massive C4GT gas plant — which was to be its primary customer — did not have the financing it needed to be built. When that project still could not secure funding by the end of 2020, the SCC denied the permit but invited the pipeline company to submit a proposal for the portions of the pipeline that were not part of the gas plant. The company submitted a proposal but quickly withdrew it, concluding that it was “no longer needed.” All this goes to show: gas infrastructure like the Header Injustice Project are no longer wanted — not by landowners, not by the financiers, not by anyone. Read more.
We Passed the Consideration of Climate and Labor Act
In 2021, Maryland took the Consideration of Climate & Labor Act over the finish line and passed common sense legislation. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has neglected the impacts of climate change and has made an inadequate consideration of labor for too long, allowing harmful projects into our communities. This legislation is a chance to ensure that future infrastructure projects will not continue to adversely affect Marylanders and their environment.
What Will the Legislation Do?
- Directs the PSC to consider climate change in its regulation of the electricity sector, based upon the best available scientific information recognized by the IPCC and achieving our state climate goals.
- Specifically, the legislation will require the PSC to consider climate impacts when reviewing applications for new electricity generating facilities, and when it approves the sites for new facilities.
- State agencies similarly would need to consider climate impacts when providing input to the PSC regarding applications for new facilities.
- Requires energy companies applying to the PSC to disclose the benefits they will give to workers on specific energy projects.
We Passed Clean Car Standards in Virginia
The Virginia General Assembly officially passed landmark climate legislation referred to as clean car standards (HB 1965). Carbon emissions from the transportation sector account for close to half of ALL emissions in Virginia. And it’s lethal, disproportionately affecting communities of color. By passing clean car standards legislation (HB 1965), the General Assembly ensured that Virginians will have access to cleaner vehicles that help improve public health, protect our environment, and expand consumer choice.
By passing HB 1965, Virginia will be expanding consumer choice and ensuring that residents have access to a wide array of electric vehicles. HB 1965 garnered broad support from a number of environmental groups, industry voices, and constituents. This vote made Virginia the first state in the Southeast to adopt clean car standards — and the first to do so with official support from the state’s auto dealer association. We could not have achieved this monumental victory without the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC).
We Beat the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
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. The ACP was an environmental justice nightmare, siting a compressor station in the historically Black neighborhood of Union Hill in Buckingham County. As US Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the ruling revoking an air pollution permit for this compressor station, “environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked.”
CCAN has opposed the ACP since it was announced in September 2014. From the start, we worked with a coalition of partners to organize countless rallies, marches, and protests, many of which incorporated civil disobedience. And the pipeline has been caught up in dozens of lawsuits that resulted in key permits being thrown out again and again, resulting in so many stop-work orders that only six percent of the pipeline was built in the two years it had been allowed to construct.
This victory was achieved by working with numerous state and local groups, including Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Appalachian Voices, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the SAVE Coalition, the Sierra Club, and many, many more — not to mention thousands of volunteers and community advocates who achieved such an amazing victory. Read more here.
Virginia Passes the Clean Economy Act
On March 12, 2020, the Virginia General Assembly PASSED the Virginia Clean Economy Act! 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. It does this while creating real safeguards against Dominion Energy for ratepayers – especially for low-income families – and by mandating the use of LESS electricity statewide in the future.
The VCEA was supported by the biggest clean energy coalition ever assembled not just in Virginia but perhaps in the nation. The bill was supported by many environmental partners, including the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Audubon Society, CERES, and more; scores of clean energy companies; and constant involvement of literally dozens of climate-committed legislators. Passage of this historic bill brings Virginia from the back of the pack to the forefront of climate leadership in the nation. Read more here.
Virginia Bans Offshore Drilling
The 2010 BP oil disaster gave us a stark reminder of the dangers of offshore oil drilling. America watched helplessly as millions of barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for months, costing millions of dollars in environmental and health damages, and taking the lives of 11 workers who died in the oil rig explosion.
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.
All this led to the Virginia General Assembly passing HB 706, 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. Read more.
Virginia Joins the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
After six years of fighting for Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Iniative, on February 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act! This bill will formally join Virginia to RGGI, a carbon trading program comprised of nine East Coast states that is designed to cut carbon emissions by decreasing amounts in a way that keeps costs low. In short, Virginia’s fossil fuel plants will have to pay for their pollution as they reduce overall emissions. As a result, public health problems like asthma and acute bronchitis caused by fossil fuels will decline.
The Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act will require the revenue from this program — upwards of $1 billion — to fund flooding adaptation and energy efficiency measures. It’s increasingly important protect our coastal and inland communities from flooding, which will only get worse as sea levels rise and extreme weather worsens with global warming. And the efficiency solutions will keep electricity bills low for everyone as we transition to a clean energy economy. These funds will provide safer communities and lower energy bills for ratepayers across Virginia. Read more here.
Maryland Passes the Clean Energy Jobs ActApril 2019 On April 8, 2019, in a watershed victory for clean energy and climate policy in Maryland, the General Assembly gave final approval to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Both House and Senate chambers provided veto-proof margins: 95-40 in favor in the House and 31-15 in the Senate. Governor Hogan announced that he would allow the bill to become law on May 22. The legislation will transform the way electricity is used in the state, making roof-top solar power and utility-scale solar common forms of generation in the coming years. It will also further kickstart the state’s offshore wind industry, with incentives for 1200 megawatts of ocean-based power. The bill increases the state’s renewable electricity standard to 50% of the total grid by 2030 and requires the state to examine pathways for achieving 100% clean power by 2040. A downside of the bill is that legislators did not succeed in closing a controversial loophole that counts waste incineration as renewable power, allowing the polluting technology to receive the same incentive as clean wind and solar technologies. For the second year in a row the Maryland Senate passed a bill to remove the clean energy subsidy for burning trash; and, for the second year in a row, the House Economic Matters Committee did not move the policy change forward. On the whole, this bill is an overwhelming win, and now makes Maryland a true national leader in the fight against climate change and in favor of clean energy. Read more here.
DC Passes Strongest Climate Policy in the CountryDecember 2018 In December 2018, the DC Council passed the “Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018.” The bill mandates that 100 percent of the city’s electricity come from clean renewable power by the year 2032. It also creates enormous incentives for electric cars, sets groundbreaking efficiency standards for existing buildings, and expands 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. This represents the strongest legislative mandate of its kind of any state in America. All told, the Clean Energy DC Act will reduce climate pollution in the District by a whopping 45%, and puts the District on track to meet our commitments under the Paris Climate Accord. And here’s the best part: the White House and Congress will be lit with renewable energy, whether they want it or not. This bill was the result of a years-long campaign, coordinated by CCAN, involving a coalition more than 100 local businesses and organizations. Camila Thorndike, director of CCAN’s DC team, offered reflections on what it took to pass the strongest climate law in the country. Read more here.
Baltimore Passes Crude Oil Terminal ProhibitionMarch 2018 In March 2018, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh signed the Crude Oil Terminal Prohibition into law. The law bans the construction of new crude terminals, helping to prevent a surge in the transport of volatile crude oil trains through the city. The law is the first of its kind on the East Coast and follows examples set by Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington in 2016. With this victory, residents and advocates will no longer have to worry about a new crude oil terminal being proposed in the city. 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. At a campaign celebration, the bill’s lead sponsor, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, emphasized the importance of the extensive public comments and testimony submitted in support of the bill. And a staffer with the mayor’s office specifically noted all of the phone calls and comments their office received as a reason for the mayor’s support. All of this goes to show: organizing works!
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Strengthens Carbon Pollution StandardsAugust 2017 In August 2017, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) unveiled a plan to strengthen its program to reduce carbon emissions. The program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. Maryland’s participation in RGGI is already expected to reduce CO2 emissions from the State’s electricity generators by roughly 10 percent from current levels by 2019. RGGI, a cooperative effort by nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generating plants, has been an unquestioned success for Maryland and neighboring states since it began in 2009. This victory also sets a strong bar for Virginia as the state considers joining RGGI as a path to meet Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11 to reduce carbon emissions.
Nation’s largest offshore wind farms approved for MarylandMay 2017 In May 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved applications for two offshore wind farms, paving the path for Maryland to become a national leader in offshore wind energy. The PSC’s approval will bring the nation’s largest offshore wind projects to the coasts of Maryland, creating almost 9,700 new jobs, generating 368 megawatts of clean power and preventing hundreds of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide from entering into the atmosphere. This big step forward for clean energy in Maryland was propelled by the dozens of grassroots activists who attended project hearings in the spring of 2017 in addition to the immense grassroots support for the passage of the 2013 Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act.
Maryland Passes Permanent, Statewide Ban on Fracking, with Nationwide ImplicationsMarch 2017 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.
MD Enacts “Clean Energy Jobs Act” by Overriding Hogan’s VetoFebruary 2017 In an historic move, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 921/HB 1106), bringing into law a 25% clean electricity target, which the state must meet by 2020. The overwhelming support to restore this leading piece of legislation comes on the heels of nearly four years of persistent grassroots support for more clean energy, improved public health, and progressive climate action. The Clean Energy Jobs Act will create nearly 1,000 new high-paying jobs annually through 2020 by creating incentives for roughly 1,300 megawatts of wind and solar. That’s enough clean energy to power 279,000 homes annually. The measure will also reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road each year, which will mitigate the impacts of climate change while preventing up to 600 asthma attacks each year.
DC Enacts 50% Clean Energy StandardJuly 2016 In June 2016, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved the Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Amendment Act of 2016 (B21-650), which expanded D.C.’s clean energy target to 50 percent by 2032. The bill was signed into law by Mayor Bowser on July 25, 2016, setting in motion one of the top-five mandatory clean energy goals among U.S. states. By creating incentives for 1,500 Megawatts of new wind and solar power, the bill will quadruple jobs in D.C.’s solar industry, which currently employs 1,000 people. The legislation will also reduce climate pollution at a rate equal to taking 500,000 cars off the road per year while also establishing a “Solar for All” program to cut the electric bills of 100,000 low-income District households in half by 2032.
Targa Resources Nixes Plans for Crude Oil Terminal in BaltimoreJuly 2016 As a result of two years of legal and citizen pressure, Houston-based Targa Resources withdrew plans for a new crude oil shipping terminal in South Baltimore in July of 2016. Targa’s plan involved shipping over 383 million gallons of crude oil by rail through the city and the Chesapeake Bay per year. CCAN worked with the Environmental Integrity Project to submit detailed legal comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) challenging Targa’s permit application in 2014, in addition to working with community members to generate hundreds of written comments to MDE. MDE put Targa’s permit on hold, requesting more information about air pollution impacts, in June 2015, leading the company to withdraw its application a year later. This victory will prevent an immediate increase in dangerous oil trains rolling through Baltimore neighborhoods, where 165,000 people live in the potential 1-mile “blast zone” of a derailment.
Prince George’s County Bans FrackingApril 2016 On April 12th, 2016, the Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously to ban hydraulic fracking, better known as fracking, within the county. The measure, which amends county zoning laws to prohibit fracking, was introduced by Councilwoman Mary Lehman and succeeded with a unanimous 8-0 vote. Prince George’s County was the first in Maryland to ban fracking following the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of a two-year moratorium on the practice in 2015. As a result of this victory, which came after months of work by citizens supported by CCAN and allied groups, fracking is now banned in Maryland’s two most populous counties. Montgomery County approved a similar zoning change in 2014.Prince George’s County sits atop the Taylorsville Basin, which is estimated to contain more than 500 billion cubic feet of gas. For more information, click here.
Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act RenewedApril 2016
Obama Administration Protects Atlantic Coast From Offshore DrillingMarch 2016 Thanks to the thousands of people across the East Coast, the Obama administration released an updated draft five-year plan for oil and gas development in federal waters that would keep drilling off limits in the Atlantic, protecting coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia. This decision, a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous plan, responds to the widespread and vocal opposition of more than 110 East Coast communities, more than 700 state and local elected officials, more than 1,000 business interests, and thousands of citizens. CCAN worked with Virginia’s activists to submit hundreds of public comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of Interior, as well as urged our Virginia Senators to come out strong against offshore oil drilling. For more details click here.
President Obama Rejects the Keystone XL PipelineNovember 2015 Keystone XL was a proposed tar sands pipeline that would connect Alberta, Canada with Gulf Coast refineries that would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned. CCAN played a major role in organizing actions to stop this project, from massive marches, submitting comments, birddogging the President across the region, and getting arrested at the White House. Keystone XL required a Presidential Permit to move forward, and on November 6, 2015, the Obama administration rejected the pipeline, stating that “The Keystone XL pipeline does not serve the national interests of the United States”.
Fracking Moratorium in MarylandMay 2015 After years of statewide organizing, CCAN and our allies pushed Maryland’s first legislative moratorium over the finish lines in 2015! The bill prohibits gas companies from fracking for natural gas in Maryland through at least October 1st, 2017 protecting our communities from this dangerous drilling practice. The bill passed the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support and became law on May 29th after Governor Larry Hogan neither signed nor vetoed it. We now have 2.5 years to develop an even stronger grassroots movement to permanently ban fracking in the state of Maryland and keep this fossil fuel in the ground!
Solar Net Metering Bill Passes the Virginia LegislatureFebruary 2015 On February 23rd, the Virginia legislature passed HB1950 and SB1395, raising the non-residential net metering project cap from 500 kw to 1MW- a concrete step to grow Virginia’s clean energy economy! Here are the details of the bill:
- Doubles Virginia’s Cap to 1MW. The bill raised the non-residential project cap for solar net metering customers from 500 kilowatts to 1 megawatts.