Governor O'Malley Signs Legislation to Protect Maryland's Environment, Chesapeake Bay; Help Secure Maryland's Energy Future
O’Malley Signs BGE Settlement Worth Nearly $2 Billion for Maryland Ratepayers
BALTIMORE, MD (April 24, 2008) – Governor Martin O’Malley today joined Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, to sign legislation to protect Maryland’s environment and the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and help secure Maryland’s energy future.
“We must do all that we can to preserve our natural resources and secure Maryland’s energy future,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “I want to thank the General Assembly in working together this session to pass legislation that continues to make Maryland a national leader in protecting the environment. With today’s bills, we are creating a sustainable energy policy, securing relief for thousands of Maryland ratepayers through a global settlement with Constellation energy, protecting our environment and helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay for future generations.”
“Maryland ratepayers will see over one billion in liability relief as a result of the hard work during the 2008 legislative session,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “The legislation that we are signing today is good for the environment, good for the economy and good for the consumer: protecting the Chesapeake Bay, promoting green technology and reducing energy consumption.”
Governor O’Malley today signed into law legislation that updates and strengthens Maryland’s critical areas law to ensure more adequate protection of the most environmentally sensitive and significant lands within Maryland’s Chesapeake and Coastal Bays watersheds. The Critical Areas law will restore the Critical Area Commission’s regulatory authority to operate with the same authority as every other agency of State government; significantly strengthen enforcement; provide stronger protection of water quality and wildlife habitats; establish new procedures for processing variances; and require updating of the Critical Area boundary -- which has not been adjusted since 1972. The 1984 critical areas law designated all land within 1,000 feet of the edge of tidal waters and wetlands as “critical area.” Sixty-four local jurisdictions including 16 counties and 48 municipalities comprise land within the critical area.
“Governor O’Malley continues to showcase the leadership that will save our Bay and make our growth sustainable for future generations,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “The legislation being signed today will serve as a national example of what states can do to improve the health and sustainability of our environment.”
Among the bills signed today was legislation that secures a nearly $2 billion global settlement with Constellation Energy Group for Maryland ratepayers and families and ends Maryland ratepayers’ obligations for decommissioning nuclear power facilities at Calvert Cliffs, saving Maryland ratepayers $1.5 billion in future costs. Ratepayers were projected to begin payments of $33 million annually from 2016 through 2036. As a result of this settlement, Constellation Energy Group will be liable for these costs. Under the terms of the agreement, Baltimore Gas & Electric residential ratepayers will receive a one-time “rate rebate” of approximately $170 by the end of the year. This refund amounts to $187 million in rate relief for Maryland’s families and represents a more than 10% reduction in this year’s total bill for more than 50% of all BGE customers – over 580,000 ratepayers.
“Today is a big win for the Governor. He delivered on his promise to the BGE ratepayers and he has laid the groundwork for years of future savings for all citizens through energy efficiency. No one state Governor can stop global energy prices from going up,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “But Governor O’Malley has done more than any of us thought was possible. I was very pleased that he accomplished all of this while also making great strides in protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.”
In addition, Governor O’Malley signed into law legislation that helps secure our energy future including bills that:
- Establish the Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund and the Maryland Strategic Investment Program to promote affordable, reliable, and clean energy;
- Invest in sustainable energy by increasing the percentage of requirements of the Renwable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 20% in 2022 and beyond;
- Encourages Marylanders to invest in clean energy systems for their homes by increasing specified grant limits under the Solar Energy and Geothermal Heat Pump grant programs, and creating tax incentives for solar energy geothermal equipment, etc.;
- Establishes green building standards for new and renovated State buildings and new school buildings; and
- Establishes the State goal of achieving a 15% reduction in per capita electricity consumption and peak demand by the end of 2015 through the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency initiative.
Last week, Governor O’Malley announced that public lands managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will not be considered as sites for commercial wind power generation and that public land will continue to be managed for the essential environmental, recreational and economic values they provide for all of Maryland’s families and future generations. Governor O’Malley also joined Virginia Governor Kaine to announce their commitment to work together to rebuild the Chesapeake Bay’s beleaguered blue crab population by directing our regulatory agencies to take immediate steps to reduce the 2008 female harvest of blue crabs by 34 percent, and to develop long-term management strategies to ensure that the blue crab and the economy it supports continue to be an important part of our culture for generations to come.
Last year, Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly took significant steps to protect the Bay and Maryland’s environment by passing legislation related to clean cars, enhanced stormwater management, and oyster restoration. Governor O’Malley today signed into law today legislation that continue their commitment to protect and clean up the Chesapeake Bay and protect Maryland’s environment, including bills that:
- Secure $25 million for the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay; and
- Make Transit Oriented Development a priority for the State to reduce sprawl and over-development.
In his first 14 months in office, Governor O’Malley has made great strides in protecting our natural environment, protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay and securing our energy future, including:
- Fully-funded Program Open Space two years in a row to prevent sprawl and preserve Maryland open space
- Restored Maryland’s leadership by restoring the Office of Smart Growth to deal with overdevelopment, sprawl and traffic
- Passed the Stormwater Management Act and increased funding for nutrient removal programs, septic system upgrades and sewer rehabilitation projects
- Passed the Oyster Restoration Act to restore oyster population of the Bay.
- Passed the Clean Cars law to reduce auto emissions and tackle global warming
- Invested a record $17.4 million in cover crop programs for Maryland farmers; and provided $3.25 million to keep farming profitable in Maryland (MARBIDCO)
- Launched the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative, setting the most ambitious goal in the nation to decrease per capita electricity consumption 15% by 2015, which when fully implemented will save Marylanders $5.7 billion (an average of $190 per household annually) and avoid at least three new power plants
- Proposed Strategic Energy Investment Fund to allow Maryland to take control of its energy future by investing in energy efficiency technology and clean renewable power
- Promoted diversification of Maryland’s electricity sources and "green buildings" to establish a more secure, sustainable energy future
- Created the Climate Change Commission to develop an action plan to address climate change in Maryland and rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay,
- Led efforts to implement Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with 10 states to control carbon dioxide emissions in United States and supported the Global Warming Solutions Act.