For Immediate Release:
Monday, Feb. 23, 2015
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tiffany Hartung, 248.933.2451, email@example.com
Hundreds Converge on Annapolis to Urge Lawmakers to Increase Maryland’s Clean Energy Goals
Marylanders ask elected officials to work together for cleaner air and water, improved public health and clean energy jobs
Annapolis, MD (February 23, 2015) – With mini-wind turbines spinning in the frigid night air and glow sticks lighting the walkway to the State House, hundreds of Marylanders rallied in Annapolis Monday to show their support for the Clean Energy Advancement Act. Business, health, faith, labor and climate leaders headlined the rally alongside legislators, urging the General Assembly to act in 2015 to expand the state’s goals for clean electricity ahead of a key Senate hearing on the bill.
The Clean Energy Advancement Act (HB 377/SB 373), recently introduced with 16 Senate and 45 House co-sponsors, would gradually raise Maryland’s existing clean electricity consumption mandate, called the “Renewable Portfolio Standard.” The bill would require that 25 percent of Maryland’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2020 and set a trajectory to reach 40 percent by 2025, doubling the current standard. The bill is up for a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
“Ten years ago, we passed the first bill of this type under Governor Ehrlich and there were only a few solar companies in Maryland,” said Senator Brian Feldman, a sponsor of SB 373. “Now we have more than 150 solar companies employing more than 3,000 people. This legislation gives us the opportunity for clean energy to have an even greater impact on our economy.”
The bill comes at a time when Maryland is experiencing the increasingly detrimental effects of relying on fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—for energy, including dangerous air pollution, contaminated water and damaging weather:
- Last year, 2014, was the hottest year on record worldwide, while recent studies show, Baltimore and Annapolis lead the nation in increased flooding driven by rising sea levels.
- Eighty-five percent of Maryland residents live in areas that fail to meet the nation’s clean air standards, and Maryland has the 8th worst ground ozone level in the nation.
- Maryland ranks 5th in the nation in adult asthma and nearly 12 percent of Maryland children have asthma.
“Clean energy is putting Marylanders to work and cleaning up the air we breathe. It’s a critical solution to global warming, and to improving the lives of the most vulnerable among us. That’s why every member of the Maryland Latino Legislative Caucus has cosponsored this legislation, and we look forward to seeing it pass this year,” said Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, chair of the newly formed Maryland Latino Legislative Caucus.
The Maryland faith community also rallied Monday to express concern about toxic emissions caused by power plants that result in harmful air and water pollution. The impacts from that pollution are usually worse in communities of color.
“Over 220 religious leaders across Maryland, including the bishops of seven Christian denominations, have joined together to speak out for clean energy,” said Rev. Stephen Tillett, of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church, who spoke at Monday evening’s rally. “It’s not right that we still get half of our state’s energy from fossil fuels that pollute the air and make our neighbors sick. Our faith communities are showing that there is a better way.”
The National Academy of Sciences estimates that illness caused by polluting energy sources costs Maryland households an average of $73 per month. A separate analysis shows that a 40 percent clean electricity standard will prevent 200 to 450 deaths per year in Maryland.
“This is a remarkable opportunity for all Marylanders to let their policymakers know that we want to replace dirty energy making dirty, sick air with clean, renewable energy that makes our air cleaner and healthier,” said Dr. Cindy Parker, President of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We want policymakers to make the right choice to support healthy air so children, elders, people with heart or lung diseases like asthma will live longer, happier, more productive lives with much less suffering from asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and lost work and school days. “
In addition to reducing significant health costs, doubling Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard would spur significant economic gains. The policy would create nearly 1,600 new jobs per year in the state’s solar industry and spur 18,000 new jobs in the regional wind-power economy. According to the Maryland Clean Energy Center, clean energy jobs already generate more than $8.2 billion in associated salaries and wages in Maryland on an annual basis.
“The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act means more jobs for Maryland, including more public sector jobs, more manufacturing and constructions jobs,” added Charly Carter, Executive Director of Maryland Working Families. “That is a big win for all of Maryland’s workers and for our communities.”
“As the seas rise along Maryland’s shores, a grassroots movement for change is rising up, too,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We’re here today to tell our legislators that we have a moral obligation to act, and we also have an opportunity to act. By getting more of our electricity from the wind and the sun, we will protect our children while growing our economy.”
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS:
Advocates are using the hashtag #CleanerMDnow to distribute information about the legislation and these supporting events.
On Tuesday, February 24th at noon, ahead of a Senate Finance Committee hearing, two Maryland bishops will join other faith leaders for a tele-press conference, unveiling a letter signed by over 200 clergy of all faith traditions who are calling on legislators to expand clean energy. Journalists can join the tele-conference by dialing (605) 477-2100 and using passcode 306196#.
The mission of the Maryland Climate Coalition is to unite Marylanders to mitigate climate change to protect our environment, health, and economy. The Coalition works with a broad range of partners engaging in policy advocacy, grassroots organizing, and public education. For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit http://www.marylandclimatecoalition.org.