The good, the bad, and what’s next: Climate progress in MD’s 2022 legislative session

Well…that’s a wrap! 

As you probably know, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned at midnight on Monday, April 11, concluding the 444th legislative session. Over the last 90 days, we’ve been ringing the alarm bells (like the United Nations’ Code Red for Humanity!!!) and urging our state leaders not to let another year go by without meaningful climate action. We started on the first day of session in January, reminding legislators of the human cost of climate change, with 100 empty chairs on Lawyer’s Mall representing the number of people killed by climate change every six hours. We showed up in-person, online, in the news, and in their offices throughout the legislative session. Now more than ever, climate had to be on the top of mind for every legislator. 

Ultimately, we passed some really important bills, setting an ambitious goal for emissions reduction and building the foundation for bold climate action in years to come. 

Let’s take stock of our 2022 successes!

The Good

After fighting off opposition from the oil and gas lobby, we were able to pass several significant pieces of legislation that will help move our climate platform forward. 

  • The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 sets one of the most ambitious climate pollution reduction goals in the country. By establishing the Building Energy Performance standard, Maryland now becomes one of only a handful of states addressing the emissions that come from buildings. With the passage of this bill, Maryland leads the way on climate equity and environmental justice by prioritizing overburdened and underserved communities in mitigation efforts. This bill went through the wringer and collective advocacy was its lifeline. Though we didn’t get everything we wanted, this bill lays the groundwork for the climate action we will need throughout the next few years. Bill sponsors and climate champions Senator Paul Pinsky, Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Dana Stein, Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, and Delegate Regina Boyce deserve a huge thanks for all their hard work on this bill. 
  • One of our major priorities – the Grid Reliability and Inclusive Distribution Act or GRID Act ) – was incorporated into and passed with Climate Solutions Now. This bill ensures that the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) distribution system planning process prioritizes emissions reductions and clean energy development, harnesses federal funding opportunities, and results in regulations for distribution system planning that will help us meet our climate goals! Thank you to bill sponsors Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman for their vision and commitment! Read more about this important policy here
  • Alongside our allies and a broad coalition, we successfully passed several other important bills that will help reduce emissions, protect our environment and communities, and promote climate equity. Check out this factsheet about the legislative successes of the Climate Partners

The Bad

Still, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room – climate change is intensifying and our top priority legislation, Climate Solutions Now, saw a lot of opposition from the heavy-hitting polluters.  The original version of the Climate Solutions Legislative Agenda would have electrified our new buildings and cut emissions from existing buildings on a timeline that met the urgency of climate change. 

While our aforementioned climate champions advocated for these key provisions, the oil and gas lobby swarmed Annapolis and poisoned the well. While trying to push this bill forward, we were constantly setting the record straight and busting myths coming from our opposition. With help from Maryland advocates from all across the state, we were able to save the bill and minimize the damage. We passed Climate Solutions Now, and so many other bills, because our voices were louder than Exelon’s lobbyists. This bill sets ambitious goals for reducing emissions and lays the foundation for the climate work we MUST do in the years to come. 

Furthermore, several priority bills did not make it across the finish line this year, including the Climate Equity Act and the Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment. We will continue to work with our partners to forge a path forward for these bills because we know that justice and community must be at the center of our work. 

What’s Next 

Passing climate legislation is just one piece of the puzzle. To ensure that these climate solutions are implemented effectively, we will be working closely with the Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt the best Building Energy Performance Standards we can. And we can’t lose momentum on electrification! While the Public Service Commission conducts a study on electrification and the grid, we will be working on broader education around the need to electrify our building sector. We are excited to launch an “Electrify Maryland Roadshow.” Our aim is to change the narrative around electrification. Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Educate folks on why we need to electrify – how it will cut emissions and save them money
  2. Inform folks on HOW to electrify their homes 
  3. Cultivate public demand for electrification legislation

If you’d like to get involved in our Electrify Maryland Roadshow, please sign up using this Volunteer Sign Up Form! We will be spreading the word about electrification throughout the summer and beyond.

We are also excited to get involved in the 2022 elections! We know that to pass progressive climate legislation, we need climate justice leaders at every level of government. We’ll be focusing on the state-level races this Spring, Summer, and Fall! CCAN Action Fund (CCAN’s advocacy arm) will be working with partners on a Climate Justice Resolution. You can learn more about it here

Ready to up your climate commitment? We’ve recently launched a new Membership program focusing on investing in new grassroots leaders, deepening community ties, and creating more specific opportunities to engage with our members. Learn how you can become a member by clicking this link.  

Further Reading: 

Read more about the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022