An Open Letter to Governor Hogan and the General Assembly: Affirming Maryland’s Leadership in Addressing Climate Change

For immediate release: Friday, June 16, 2017

Contact:
Karla Raettig
Executive Director
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Mobile: 202-674-3174
Email: kraettig@mdlcv.org

Alfred Bartlett, M.D.
Executive Director Co-Lead, Climate Health Action Team
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Mobile: 240-383-9109
Email: AlfredBartlett@msn.com

An Open Letter to Governor Hogan and the General Assembly:
Affirming Maryland’s Leadership in Addressing Climate Change

With President Trump’s abdication of U.S. leadership on climate change, states now become the key actors in committing to—and achieving—the greenhouse gas reductions needed to slow and ultimately arrest global warming. Maryland is especially vulnerable to the increasingly violent storms, sea level rise, flooding, heat emergencies, and other environmental effects of climate change. In this moment when our nation’s partnership with the global community in addressing this threat has been called into question, Maryland urgently needs to re-affirm our commitment to doing our part. The Maryland Climate Coalition urges the executive and legislative branches of our state government to work together so that Maryland can serve as a national example.

In the absence of federal leadership—and, in some cases, in the face of federal policies that will push our climate in the wrong direction—Maryland and other states will have to work harder to protect our citizens and the world.  Maryland has much to teach, gain, and learn through partnerships with other states. Whether through formal alliances like the U.S. Climate Alliance or the Compact of States and Regions constituted under the U.N. mechanism that supports the Paris Agreement, or through some other framework, we encourage our state government to enter progress-oriented partnerships with other states.  

But the most important reflections of Maryland’s commitment will be the actions that you, our elected leaders, take in the coming months and years.  

We applaud the leadership steps that Maryland has recently taken. In 2016, our legislators passed and the Governor signed reauthorization of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA), which sets the goal of reducing CO2 emissions in the state by 40 per cent by 2030. This is even more ambitious than the goals laid out for the United States in the Paris Agreement.  

Since then, important steps have been taken by our state to move toward that goal:

  • The Maryland Public Service Commission approved development of the nation’s first, full-scale offshore wind electricity generating projects.
  • The General Assembly enacted a law that commits Maryland to achieving 25 per cent of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
  • The executive and legislative branches worked together to enact a ban on fracking.
  • The General Assembly passed and Gov. Hogan signed into law a 30 percent tax credit to those who choose to utilize energy storage technology, making it the first state in the country to pass such legislation. 
  • The two branches also worked together to establish a new law promoting increased use of electric vehicles through a renewal of a tax credit and beginning investment in the charging stations needed to make wider electric vehicle use feasible.
  • A new law enacted by the General Assembly establishes energy efficiency targets that will reduce the need for fossil fuel-generated power and save utility consumers money.


These steps, however, are just the beginning of the actions needed.  By the end of 2018, our state must complete its plan to reach our GGRA goals.  Because electricity generation and transportation are the major sources of CO2 production, that plan must include:

  • Setting targets for reducing carbon emissions in the electric sector by at least 5 per cent annually through our participation in the 9-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI);
  • Supporting and accelerating environmentally responsible expansion of wind and solar energy development;
  • Aggressively working to remove coal and other combustible fuels from our electric power generation mix;
  • Expanding and strengthening EmPOWER and other programs to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use;
  • Through the Public Service Commission’s “PC44” process and other analyses, planning and investing in modernization of our electric grid to take advantage of the rapid development of clean energy from multiple sources;
  • Supporting and promoting electrification of public, private, and commercial transportation;
  • Assisting municipalities in developing more walkable and bikeable urban environments;
  • Through responsible and caring management, assuring the participation of all Marylanders in our transition to a clean energy economy;
  • Supporting our citizens whose livelihoods are touched by this transition to participate with security and dignity.

Our participation in the RGGI has proven that we can have both reduced carbon emissions and solid economic development.  The rapid expansion of the solar industry and the new commitments from offshore wind developers have proven that building a clean energy economy can bring thousands of good jobs and whole new industries to Maryland.

The below organizations in the Maryland Climate Coalition stand ready to assist—through technical analyses, advocacy, public information campaigns, and any other means at our disposal—in developing and supporting the policies, legislation, and programs our state will need to continue addressing the threat of climate change, on behalf of our citizens, the global community, and future generations.  

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://marylandclimatecoalition.org/

Signatories:

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – Maryland/DC Division 

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility

Earthjustice

Environment Maryland

Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)

Labor Network for Sustainability

Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Maryland Organizing for Action

Moms Clean Air Force, Maryland Chapter

Sierra Club-Maryland Chapter

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland