Following Overwhelming Senate Approval, Maryland Leaders Call on House to Quickly Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act

Maryland State Senate voted 33-13 for the historic clean energy bill that would require 50% renewable electricity by 2030

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, a coalition of advocates urged the Maryland House of Delegates to pass of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516 / HB 1158). This press conference took place one day after the Maryland Senate voted overwhelmingly 33-13 to pass the bill, enough vote to override a potential gubernatorial veto. Senator Feldman, a lead sponsor of the bill, will join representatives of the Maryland Climate Coalition and other advocates to give remarks and answer questions about the legislation. The bill will now be considered by the House Rules Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee before going to the full House floor.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would increase the state’s renewable electricity standard to 50% by 2030 and require legislators to develop a plan to reach 100% clean power by 2040. The proposed bill would create thousands of jobs and make the state a national leader in the renewable energy field, while cutting carbon emissions equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road each year.

“I’m proud to back the Clean Energy Jobs Act, and proud of my fellow senators for passing this historic bill out of the Senate,” said Senator Brian Feldman (D-15). “This bill is essential for reducing carbon emissions in the state and tackling climate change. Now we’re looking to the House of Delegates to pass the bill as quickly as possible.”

“Yesterday’s tremendous vote in the Senate breathes new life into the Clean Energy Jobs Act,” said Mike Tidwell, Director of the CCAN Action Fund. “We are optimistic that the House of Delegates will recognize the huge amount of support for this bill and be persuaded to follow suit.”

Nationwide concern for climate change is at its peak after recent scientific studies and scandalous climate policy retreats by the Trump Administration. A bombshell United Nations scientific report released in October found that the world has just over ten years to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half. In February, responding to the UN report, ten of Maryland’s leading climate scientists sent a letter to the General Assembly to urgently endorse passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act this year. “As one of the most affluent and best-educated states in the most powerful nation on Earth, Maryland has an obligation to lead,” they said.

Read the letter from climate scientists in full here.

“Scientific evidence of climate disruption is mounting daily,” said Don Boesch, Professor and President Emeritus, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Yet, science also strongly indicates that the worst effects can still be avoided if we rapidly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases over the next thirty years. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is the obvious next step to meet our commitment for reducing emissions by 2030. Every year of delay makes it more challenging, if not impossible.”

On March 15, representatives of a majority of Maryland’s biggest environmental groups sent a letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch pleading for his support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The letter signals a level of alarm, based on climate science, never before seen in the state. The groups state: “Mr. Speaker, please hear our call and the voices of our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters. Please do all you can to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Fighting climate change will be your proudest legacy. Delay, even by a year, will cost us dearly.”

See the letter from Maryland’s top environmental groups in full here.

“We have just 11 years to cut carbon emissions in half in order to avert climate catastrophe, and the federal government is going backwards on climate policy,” said Brooke Harper, Brooke Harper, Political Chair of the NAACP Maryland State Conference. “We cannot wait one more year to pass serious statewide climate action. We must pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this year.”

The press conference comes after hundreds of students walked out of school and descended on Annapolis to call for climate action. As part of the “Schools Strike for Climate,” the students called on the General Assembly to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act and protect their climate future.

Kallan Benson, student and activist who has been holding a “silent protest” on climate change for two months, said, “Here in Maryland, the house is on fire, and we are screaming upstairs. Do you hear us? Do you feel our terror? We have no time to put things off- make every minute count!”

A recent statewide poll found overwhelming support urging Hogan to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The poll, conducted by well-known pollster Patrick Gonzales, found that solid 64% majority of Maryland voters think that Governor Larry Hogan should support the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, with consistent support spread across all regions. A new poll found that 72% of Americans say climate change is important to them personally, and there is overwhelming bipartisan support (81%) for a “Green New Deal.”

“At St. Luke’s, we are doing all we can to protect the Annapolis community from the effects of climate change, but it’s not enough,” said Reverend Diana E. Carroll, Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Eastport. “We need our leaders to show moral leadership and pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this session.”

Governor Larry Hogan’s Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) recently commissioned a well-known California think tank, E3, to model the Clean Energy Jobs Act as part of its “exploratory” look at a suite of possible emissions-reduction policies. The report found that passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act is essential for the state to reach its climate goals of 40% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030. MDE also asked Towson University to run the economic impact numbers for the same model run that includes the Clean Energy Jobs Act. They found net positives across the board on total jobs, GDP and the rest. (See here for the full slides of the E3 report and Towson report).

“For the sake of Maryland’s communities, economy, and future generations, we are thrilled to celebrate the state senate’s support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act,” said Pari Kasotia, Vote Solar’s Director, Mid-Atlantic. “SB 516 will raise the bar on Maryland’s clean energy goals, creating more jobs and local economic and environmental benefits across the state. This bill is also an important step towards a 100% carbon-free future. We urge speedy support and action from Maryland’s House members to get this critical legislation across the finish line and open the doors to the 21st-century clean energy economy.”

A recent analysis from the Maryland D.C. Delaware Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) found that Maryland could lose out on approximately $247 million in federal tax credits between 2019 and 2022 if the passage of the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act is delayed by one year. In 2018, thanks to Trump and other factors, Maryland lost over 800 solar jobs. Even more jobs could be lost this year if the Clean Energy Jobs Act is not passed.

More than 640 community, labor, faith, business, climate, and environmental groups from across Maryland have already endorsed this proposal.

CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, CCAN Action Fund, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Kristen Peterson, kristen@thehatchergroup.com, 410-267-4156

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The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environmental, faith, health, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland. For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit: http://marylandclimatecoalition.org/.