Maryland Lawmakers Announce Groundbreaking Climate Action Bill

“Climate Solutions Act” Would Overhaul, Improve Hogan’s Climate Action Plan

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, legislators, student activists, faith leaders, and climate scientists joined to support the introduction of the “Climate Solutions Act” (SB926/HB1425). This legislation would greatly improve Maryland’s flawed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan to match a level of urgency called for by the world’s top scientists. The legislation is sponsored by Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Chairman Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s-22) in the Senate, and Delegate Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County-11) in the House.

Senator Pinsky stated: “The administration’s effort to address climate change is too little and already much too late. Governor Hogan’s draft plan — introduced ten months late — is flawed and weak. It’s time for the Maryland legislature to step in and immediately reduce carbon emissions. We can start by passing the Climate Solutions Act.”

Delegate Stein stated: “I am very proud to be the sponsor of House Bill 1425. This is an important bill that responds to the challenging climate conditions that we face.”

“Climate change is not a hypothetical crisis,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson, who attended the press conference. “What we know is two-thirds of Americans believe that the federal government is not doing nearly enough. While Maryland alone cannot solve this problem, we MUST be a leader.”

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The Climate Solutions Act (CSA) sets new emissions reduction targets in line with what the world’s top scientists at the United Nations have called for. It mandates that the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, economy-wide, 60% by 2030. It also requires the state to reach net zero emissions by 2045. And it requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to revamp their draft climate plan to adjust for these new targets, and make some fixes to their existing plan — for example, not claiming the state will reduce its emissions by widening highways. It also takes additional actions to immediately cut greenhouse gases, including planting one million trees every year. 

Kallan Benson, student activist and lead organizer with Fridays for Future, stated: “We youth, the next generation, demand action to protect our future from this climate crisis. Science tells us we have to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We must act now, and the Climate Solutions Act puts Maryland on a path to give us a livable world like the one our parents took for granted.”

The legislation also begins a process to make climate actions racially equitable. It creates a workgroup focused on climate justice by identifying frontline and disadvantaged communities and assessing whether state climate investments are equitably allocated. And it ensures Maryland workers are protected, creating a workgroup dedicated to making Maryland a hub for good-paying clean energy manufacturing and other climate jobs.

Senator Mary Washington (D-43) stated: “Fossil fuels are already harming communities in Baltimore with polluted air and heat waves, and global warming will only make it worse. We need to protect our vulnerable Maryland residents from the harms of climate change by immediately reducing our fossil fuel pollution and passing the Climate Solutions Act.”

Reverend Dellyne Hinton, Pastor of Gwynn Oak UMC and Chair of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, stated: “Justice needs to be a central component of any climate plan, yet to Hogan, justice is just an afterthought in his draft climate plan. We have the moral responsibility to address the climate crisis in a way that helps the communities that have been too long underserved by our state government.”

The CSA takes five concrete actions to immediately reduce our state climate pollution: increasing energy efficiency by expanding the EmPOWER program; electrifying our state’s vehicle and bus fleet by 2030; requiring new publicly funded buildings to be LEED Zero Energy;  planting one million trees annually for the next decade; and requiring all new buildings with over 20,000 square feet of roof space to be constructed with rooftop solar.

Dr. Donald Boesch, Professor and President Emeritus, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, stated: “Simply put, the deeper reductions in emissions and shorter time frames that would come from passing the Climate Solutions Act are more consistent with the science supporting the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement than Maryland’s current Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act.”

Steuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive, stated: “Just last year, flooding occurred 65 times at the City Dock in Annapolis, and officials estimate 7,000 homes in Anne Arundel County will be underwater within the next 40 years. We need a strong climate plan now.”

Steven Hershkowitz, Maryland Director of CCAN Action Fund, stated: “We’re running out of time to address the climate crisis, and the next ten years are crucial. It starts today. Passing the Climate Solutions Act is a must-do first step for the decade that lies ahead.”

In October 2019, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released its plan to reduce its legally mandated Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan. This came two weeks after 26 Maryland-based advocacy organizations sent a letter to the agency expressing “deep concern” that the plan was nearly ten months overdue.

The plan has since come under fire, with two dozen prominent Maryland organizations stating that the plan “fail[s] to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.” Additionally, a recent policy review from the Center for Climate Strategies — which has extensive experience working on climate policy with the MDE — found that Hogan’s draft climate plan is critically flawed and falls far short of what is needed to address the climate crisis. That plan includes data that shows electricity generated from coal continuing through 2040. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, coal must be completely phased out in the near future to prevent extreme levels of global warming. The plan also relies on Governor Hogan’s proposed “Clean and Renewable Energy Standard” (CARES) legislation (HB 363/SB 265), which continues to promote fossil fuels such as fracked gas despite falsely promising “100 percent clean electricity” by 2040. The methane emissions that come from fracked gas are 86 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide pollution, yet Hogan’s plan relies heavily on its expanded use.

CONTACT:

Steven Hershkowitz, Maryland Director, steven@chesapeakeclimate.org, 301-941-7886
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889