Maryland Legislature Passes Historic Climate Protection Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2016

Contact:Tiffany Hartung, Maryland Climate Coalition, (443) 759-3402, hartungt@nwf.org

Maryland Legislature Passes Historic Climate Protection Bill

Legislation commits Maryland to one the strongest greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation

Annapolis, M.D.— Today, the Maryland General Assembly approved the landmark Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2016. The bill, SB 323/HB 610, renews the 2009 Maryland law that set a goal to reduce climate-polluting greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 25 percent by 2020. The 2016 bill further extends the goal to a 40 percent reduction by 2030, requiring deep, long-term cuts in pollution. It received final approval by the House of Delegates today after the Senate approved the bill in a 38-8 bipartisan vote in late February.

“Extending the goals of Maryland’s climate plan means cleaner air to breathe and that translates to better health for Marylanders,” said Alfred Bartlett, MD, of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This is great news for all Marylanders.”

In October, the bipartisan Maryland Commission on Climate Change made up of cabinet secretaries, legislators and stakeholders including union leaders, business and environmental groups released a report formally recommending the Maryland General Assembly extend the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act goals to achieve a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2006 levels.  

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009 directed the state to reduce climate pollution by 25 percent by 2020, and led to the creation of Maryland’s wide-ranging Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, which includes more than 150 programs. Through the plan, Maryland committed to implement smart environmental and economic strategies, such as increasing clean energy use, helping customers save energy and money through Maryland’s EmPower program, and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional program that reduces carbon pollution from coal-burning power plants.

“Extending the goals is the next step in continuing to address the climate crisis head-on and maintaining Maryland’s position as a leader,” said Karla Raettig, of Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “The broad, bipartisan support for this historic climate protection bill shows that the state is ready to move forward with smart and achievable climate pollution reductions for the next fifteen years.”

A report released last fall from the Maryland Department of the Environment detailed that the state is on track to meet its 25 percent by 2020 reduction goal while simultaneously supporting tens of thousands of new jobs. It estimates the benefit to the state’s economy of the current greenhouse gas reduction plan is between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion by 2020 and helps create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs.

“By reducing pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels, this legislation will help improve Maryland’s air quality, thereby helping to reduce some of the health problems among our most vulnerable populations,” said Margery Knight, of Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry. “At the same time, it will have a significant economic impact by bringing new, good-quality jobs to the state.”

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The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environmental, faith, health, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland. For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit http://www.marylandclimatecoalition.org.