Overriding Governor Hogan’s Veto of Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 921/HB 1106), a bill to ensure that Maryland gets 25% of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2020, up from the current goal of 20% by 2022, passed the General Assembly during the 2016 legislative session. Unfortunately it was vetoed by Governor Hogan in May.
We are disappointed in the Governor’s decision to veto this widely-supported bill that would have meant cleaner air and thousands of new, family-supporting jobs in Maryland. Luckily, the bill passed the General Assembly with veto-proof margins. We will be back next year to override his veto and enact the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Tell your legislators to stand up for the Clean Energy Jobs Act!
Over half of Maryland’s electricity still comes from carbon-spewing fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. These dirty fuels are bad for our health, our economy, our climate, and our energy security. As the state that is the third most vulnerable in America to sea-level rise driven by climate change, and with the worst air quality on the east coast, we need to act now to curb our dependence on fossil fuels. And clean energy has already proven itself to be a powerful driver of economic development in Maryland, including job creation.
That’s why the Maryland Climate Coalition worked to increase the state’s clean energy standard, called the “Renewable Portfolio Standard,” raising Maryland’ commitment to clean energy like wind and solar to 25% by 2020.
Fossil fuel combustion is a public health crisis. Dirty energy is one of the main reasons that 84% of Marylanders live in an areas that received a D or F air quality grade from the American Lung Association in 2015. Maryland ranks 5th in the nation in adult asthma and nearly 12% of Maryland children have asthma. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that illness caused by polluting energy sources costs Maryland households an average of $73 per month. These health burdens harm low-income people and people of color disproportionately. Replacing dirty energy sources with clean energy will mean cleaner air for Marylanders.
Increasing Maryland’s clean energy standard to 25% by 2020 will significantly improve the state’s air quality while preventing 25 to 50 premature deaths per year and increase regional economic growth by $200 million to $450 million to annually due to better health outcomes.
Creating Family-Supporting Jobs and a Diverse Clean Energy Workforce
Maryland’s solar industry includes more than 170 companies and over 3,000 jobs today. The increase in Maryland’s clean energy standard to 25% by 2020 will create thousands of jobs and boost our in-state clean energy industry.
A 25% clean energy standard is expected to create roughly 4,600 direct jobs in our region from the land-based wind industry alone – from engineers to electricians to operators. By increasing the carve-out for solar, we will also see the growth of nearly 1,000 new Maryland solar jobs per year.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act also created a working group among government agencies and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities to invest in job training in the clean energy industry, and to remove barriers for entry in this industry by minority- and women-owned businesses. In addition, it makes small minority- and women-owned businesses in this industry eligible to receive dedicated funding for market growth through the state’s “Strategic Energy Investment Fund.”
Acting on Climate
A 25% clean energy standard creates incentives for roughly 1,300 megawatts of new clean energy in our region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 2.7 million metric tons per year. That’s the carbon equivalent of taking 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road every year, which will also deliver improved public health outcomes, cleaner air and cleaner water.
One of the top programs in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan is increasing the amount of clean, renewable electricity—like solar and wind power—that we use to power our homes and communities.
Weather in our region is getting more intense, and our electricity grid is increasingly compromised by climate-related hazards, including more intense storms and heat waves. Dispersed and locally generated electricity that doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses is a more sustainable solution to our energy needs than our current system of centralized, polluting power plants. More clean energy will make our electricity grid more resilient and keep our lights on, even during increasingly extreme weather events.
Clean Energy is Replacing Dirty Energy
The costs of solar and wind are plummeting and are out competing fossil fuels on price in many parts of the country. Wind is already comparable to natural gas generation. Solar costs have gone down 80% since 2009, and 20% in 2013 alone. Wind costs have fallen nearly 60% since 2009 and by more than 15% in 2013.
Wind and solar have more than tripled in capacity since 2008.
Clean Energy is Achievable in Maryland
Maryland already has a requirement of 20% clean power by 2022. Increasing the state’s clean electricity standard to 25% by 2025 and beyond is not only critical to protecting our climate, our health, and our economy, it’s also very achievable. Maryland has only scratched the surface of our clean energy potential. The state could meet its current electricity demand by tapping just 10% of available renewable resources.