Historic Maryland Clean Energy Bill Becomes Law

Maryland Governor Hogan Allows Clean Energy Jobs Act to Move Forward While Surprisingly Attacking the Merits of the Widely Supported Legislation

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Maryland environmental groups and the wind and solar industry scored a major victory today when Gov. Larry Hogan (R) yielded to widespread public support and permitted the Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516) to become law. The bill will create tens of thousands of Maryland-based renewable energy jobs while meeting the clean-electricity goals scientists say we need in order to solve climate change.

Many state legislators and environmental leaders were glad the Governor — somewhat belatedly — acquiesced to this progressive bill but were surprised Hogan himself never engaged directly in the legislative process itself. He proposed no amendments and offered no direct testimony. Despite this lack of participation, the Governor issued a press release claiming his displeasure with parts of the bill while promising to introduce a “better and bolder” clean energy policy in January.

“I appreciate the fact that Governor Hogan will allow this critical economic and environmental bill to become law in Maryland,” said Senator Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), lead sponsor of the bill. “The legislation was backed by a large majority of the General Assembly and every major environmental group in the State.  At the same time, neither the Governor nor anyone in his Administration ever took a position or weighed in with their views on the bill in any way during the legislative process, so his post-session suggestions now on how the bill could have been better are perplexing.  The bottom line is that the people of Maryland want a pathway to green jobs and clean energy today. We can now look forward to engaging with the Governor to do even more to fight climate change and create green jobs next year.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, which passed with super majorities in both chambers earlier this year, mandates that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. Among other benefits, it will create 20,000 solar jobs in Maryland and thousands of in-state offshore wind power jobs. It will reduce carbon pollution equal to taking 1.7 million cars off the road every year.

“This is the strongest bill ever passed in Maryland to fight global warming, by far,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund. “We’re glad that Governor Hogan chose not to deny this progress today and belatedly will let it become law. We now look forward to sending the Governor more landmark legislation next year that will help advance the use of electric cars and expand public transit instead of widening roads and increasing traffic.”

On April 9, the final day of the 2019 Maryland legislative session, the General Assembly gave final approval to the Clean Energy Jobs Act with veto-proof margins: 95-40 in favor in the House and 31-15 in the Senate. This late-breaking bill, sponsored by Senator Feldman, was one of the last major issues addressed by the General Assembly this year and was made possible by an immense grassroots push in the final weeks of session.

The legislation will dramatically expand the state’s solar economy, while boosting 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. The state’s current law is 25% renewable electricity by 2020.

The bill was supported by more than 640 community, labor, faith, business, climate, and environmental groups from across Maryland. The combined result of the bill will create billions of dollars in net economic expansion for the state, and invest millions in minority-, women-, and veteran owned clean energy businesses and worker training programs.

CCAN Action Fund thanks the work of the countless organizations that supported this bill: Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Interfaith Power & Light, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, 350 Montgomery County, HoCo Climate Action, and many more.

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CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.