Representing a broad array of organizations—faith, environmental justice, public health, labor, students, citizens’ groups, local community organizations, and others—we would like to urge the General Assembly to double our state’s commitment to clean electricity like wind and solar. We urge passage in the 2015 legislative session of an expanded Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires 40% clean electricity for the state by 2025. The state’s current requirement is 20% clean power by 2022.
Global warming and air pollution severely threaten our state’s environment and economy, as well as the health of all the Marylanders we represent. The largest source of global warming pollution is our use of electricity, the majority of which still comes from burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. Those fossil fuels also emit conventional health-hazardous air pollution that gives the DC-Baltimore region some of the worst air quality in the nation. Our most important strategy to reduce global warming pollution is therefore to move swiftly to clean electricity sources like wind and solar power.
More than 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real and that we have a limited window of time to stave off its worst effects. Maryland residents are already feeling the many costs of global warming’s impacts. Extreme weather events are increasingly burdening our economy; during 2011 and 2012, severe weather events cost Maryland taxpayers over $70 million. Sea-level rise continues to accelerate, threatening our tourism industries and coastal communities. Maryland workers are facing increasingly hazardous conditions such as damaging air pollution and a rising number of 90- and 100-degree days. Health impacts caused by burning fossil fuels for electricity already cost the average Maryland household almost $73 per month.
Meanwhile, investing in clean energy is already benefitting Maryland in many ways. Maryland’s solar sector, for example, already includes more than 130 companies and over 2,200 jobs in Maryland today, and it even surpasses Maryland’s crab industry in total market value. At the same time, wind energy has been a powerful driver of economic development here and across the country, including job creation, local investment, payments to farmers and other landowners to lease their land, and tax revenues to local communities. Stable clean electricity prices are also helping provide a hedge against the volatility of fossil fuels. More clean electricity in Maryland will mean even more benefits.
Here’s why we know we can get to 40% clean electricity for Maryland by 2025:
- Costs are falling – Costs of solar and wind are plummeting. Land-based wind power is already comparable to natural gas. Average solar prices have fallen by roughly 40% since 2012.
- Our grid is ready – According to the operators of Maryland’s electricity grid, all the states in our region could double their current RPS requirements while maintaining reliability, reducing pollution, and lowering energy prices.
- Success stories – Many other states and countries are already on track to achieve more than 40% clean electricity. For instance, Maine’s goal is 40% by 2017, and Ireland’s is 43% by 2020.
- Untapped potential – The estimated potential for untapped wind and solar power just within Maryland’s borders is equivalent to ten times the total electricity Marylanders consume today.
We urge you to do everything in your power to make the goal of 40% clean electricity by 2025 the law of the land during the Maryland legislative session of 2015. Our state can and should lead the charge in the much-needed transition from dirty, dangerous fossil fuels to clean renewable electricity sources that will help protect Maryland’s businesses and workforce.
Baltimore City Branch of NAACP
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
League of Women Voters of Maryland
Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition
Maryland Working Families
Maryland Environmental Health Network
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Maryland Nurses for a Healthy Environment
Maryland Sierra Club
Maryland State Conference of NAACP
National Wildlife Federation
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM)