Md. Climate Scientists Send Urgent Plea to Busch on Clean Energy Jobs Act

Flooding near Annapolis City Dock. City of Annapolis photo

Ten Maryland climate scientists have sent an urgent appeal to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), arguing that the looming climate crisis demands immediate action and that the best way to confront global warming in the state is to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will be up for hearings this week.

The letter to Busch, spearheaded by Donald Boesch, a professor and former president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, was delivered late last week.

This is the second year in a row that clean energy advocates have brought forth legislation http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/bills/hb/hb1158f.pdf that would require the state to use 50 percent renewable energy for electricity by 2030. It would also mandate a study for reaching 100 percent renewables by 2040.

But even with climate change and its impact frequently in the headlines, the bill is by no means a sure thing in the House or the Senate. In their letter, the scientists argue that the state cannot afford to tarry.

“Successive scientific reports have recently provided evermore documentation of harmful climate trends already underway,” they wrote. “In our state of Maryland, scientists have been making similar projections as far back as 2008 and earlier. Continued growth in emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases will lead to longer heat waves in Maryland as well as more intense storms, longer droughts, and greater sea-level rise.

“Here’s the hopeful message: The worst effects of climate change can still be avoided by very rapid reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases over the next thirty years,” the scientists continue. “An October report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that we can still avoid dangerous levels of warming, but only by reducing global carbon dioxide emissions to a net of zero by no later than 2055.”

The authors argue that the federal government is gutting environmental protections, and that U.S. carbon emissions have increased 3.4 percent in 2018 as a result. With this in mind, they say, it is imperative for states like Maryland to act.

Donald Boesch (above), a professor and former president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, led the climate scientists’ letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). University of Delaware photo

“Until there are more rational federal policies it is up to states, local governments, businesses and institutions to rapidly reduce their emissions,” the scientists wrote. “Fortunately, many states are taking action to do just that. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan penned a Washington Post opinion piece in December expressing his commitment to the emissions reductions required under the [international] Paris [climate] agreement. But Governor Hogan and the General Assembly will have to do more than just make pledges.

“You have to act,” the scientists plead. “…As one of the most affluent and best-educated states in the most powerful nation on Earth, Maryland has an obligation to lead.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is up for a hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the Senate Finance Committee and Friday at 1 p.m. in the House Economic Matters Committee. Advocates are hosting a news conference to push for its passage on Tuesday morning near the House building in Annapolis.

In addition to Boesch, the letter to Busch was signed by:

— Gerrit Knaap, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Professor and Director, National Center for Smart Growth, University of Maryland

— Belay Demoz, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Joint Center for Earth Systems Technologies, University of Maryland Baltimore County

— Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Chair and Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland

— Adel Shirmohammadi, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Professor and Director, Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland

— Amir Sapkota, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Health

— David Vanko, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Dean, Fisher College of Science & Mathematics, Towson University

— Eric Davidson, Member, Scientific and Technical Working Group, Maryland Commission on Climate Change; Professor and Director, Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

— Benjamin Zaitchick, Associate Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

— Darryn Waugh, Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

[email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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