Thirty members of the Maryland Senate and 82 members of the House of Delegates have endorsed a bill championed by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and other green groups called the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act. It would mandate that the state reach 50 percent renewable electricity by the year 2030 and determine the best path to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040.
The bill is expected to be introduced in January. A similar measure was introduced last year with dozens of sponsors, but received an unfavorable report from the House Economic Matters Committee.
Opposition to the bill came from utility companies, with a focus on the increased costs of a shift.
The Climate Action Network said greater requirements for renewable energy production is needed now more than ever, citing a gloomy quadrennial federal report released Friday that examined climate and economic impacts of climate change.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment, a 1,500-page report produced by 13 federal agencies, concluded that substantial decreases in global greenhouse gas emissions are needed to avoid severe climate change consequences.
“There’s no longer a need to fear climate change in the distant future: It’s here now according to the US government,” Mike Tidwell, Director of the CCAN Action Fund said in a statement. “The freak floods in places like Ellicott City are no longer just the random chance of mother nature. Now the Maryland General Assembly has a chance to step up its response to climate change in a way that matches the science.”
The lead sponsors for the legislation in 2019 are Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore City) and Sen. Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery).
“Last week the federal government spoke: Climate change is harming Americans — including Marylanders — right now. Worse, the federal report says that the bigger storms, rising seas, and longer heat waves often harm the most economically vulnerable people in our country,” Glenn said in a statement released by CCAN. “The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act is our state’s way of doing our part in the global struggle. The bill cleans our air and helps protect our climate while offering extra economic support to women- and minority-owned clean energy businesses. It’s win, win, win. And it must pass in 2019.”
The 2019 General Assembly convenes on Jan. 9. Asked at an Annapolis news conference Monday about the newfound push for the legislation, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said he hadn’t seen the lawmakers’ statement and was not comfortable commenting. But he defended his record on climate change.
“By far no Republican governor has taken the action that I’ve taken on clean air,” he said.