Marylanders from all across the state convened in Annapolis with one goal: double renewable energy now!
A heavy fog settled over the bay and the streets of Annapolis, MD on Monday night, but that didn’t deter the over 125 constituents who assembled to discuss the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act with their legislators.
I was an untried and green constituent, and I will admit, a bit nervous. We all gathered together beforehand, just a couple blocks away from the State House, to meet fellow constituents and discuss game plans. The room was filled with university students, retirees, working folks who came on down on a federal holiday, and all of the generations in between.
Everyone there was excited to begin the discussions, and after a few encouraging pep talks the energy in the room reached a new level. We were set on our mission: Bring Maryland to 50% clean renewable energy and bring thousands of family-sustaining green jobs to our state.
The energy levels remained high as people waited to get through security to speak with their legislators. While walking through the halls it was evident who was new to all of this (like me), unsure which way to go and checking the numbers on all the doors, compared to the seasoned advocates who spoke to one another and the legislators in passing.
I met with three of my elected officials. One thing I learned from this experience was that every elected official is different. They have different personalities, different views, and different aspects that they take into consideration.
Yet even though they were all different in their approach, they were all alike in wanting to hear from and speak with their constituents. They wanted to know what we thought and why this piece of legislation mattered to us.
I personally became involved after studying the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2 years ago. There are seventeen of them, and goal thirteen is Climate Action. You could say I have become obsessed with goal thirteen, but I have my reasons. The main thing is this: all of the other goals would be in jeopardy without addressing climate change, from health, to equality, to hunger and food security. Global warming impacts jobs and the economy, everything, so it became my mission to work for goal thirteen, Climate Action, and that is how I ended up at the lobby night.
The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 1453 and SB 0732) would take the state of Maryland to the next level. It would keep progress moving forward, and it would uphold the state’s and the Governor’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
The main headline of the act is to increase Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio to 50% by 2030, meaning that 50% of the electricity used in Maryland would come from renewable energy sources, including clean solar and wind power. The current goal is 25% by 2020, and this legislation would keep that momentum moving forward instead of stalling out in two years. The bill includes a major increase of in-state solar generation, from the current 2.5% to 14.5%, and would also expand incentives for offshore wind power.
While the state would be moving forward in reaching a 50% renewable energy portfolio, it would also fund training in clean energy jobs, provide loans to women, minority, and veteran owned businesses in the industry, and create an additional 20,000 jobs.
Additionally, increasing the renewable energy standard would result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, which simultaneously results in cleaner air and water, and reduced health risks.
Improved health, more jobs, a boosted economy…climate action — and this bill — will help everything.
By passing this bill, our legislators would show that Maryland is taking responsibility and moving forward with the rest of the world to tackle a global problem that can only be solved by all parties making changes to their energy standards, and it is a vehicle for Maryland to eventually reach 100% clean, renewable energy.
Thanks to our volunteer advocates and the hard work by the Maryland Climate Coalition, we have 77 cosponsors in the House and 24 cosponsors in the Senate. It was exciting to learn that on Monday’s lobby night, advocates garnered support from additional legislators, including a critical Committee member, Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti, who stated for the first time that we have her support!
However, in order to get the bill to the floor for a vote, it will first need to make it out of the House Economic Matters Committee and Senate Finance Committee. They’ll be holding hearings on March 5 and 6, so we need to make sure they hear from us beforehand — stay tuned.