Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Legislation to Reduce Global Warming Pollution

Legislation Commits State to Reducing Greenhouse Gases 25 Percent by 2020

 

BALTIMORE, MD (January 23, 2009) – Today Governor Martin O’Malley, along with sponsors Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Kumar Barve, unveiled legislation to commit Maryland to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by the year 2020.  The bill, which will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly on Monday, is part of Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green, and Growing legislative package this year.  To ensure the State meets this target, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to have a plan in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 by the year 2012.  Scientists worldwide agree that early carbon reductions of at least 25 percent are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“In the current economic climate, under the new Obama Administration, Maryland cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.  “For our prosperity, for our current and future generations, and for the health of our State, which is so vulnerable to rising sea levels, we must take action on climate change now – not later. Maryland can’t afford to be left behind. We must commit to taking the actions necessary to protect our environment, our economy, and our citizens.”

Recent State initiatives, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program, Clean Cars Act, and Empower Maryland, have put the State on track to reduce greenhouse gases by 12.5 percent -- half of the 25 percent reduction goal. These actions, along with the Climate Change Commission’s Climate Action Plan that details 42 options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrate that this reduction goal is achievable and beneficial.

After last year’s debate over greenhouse gas reduction legislation, at Governor O’Malley’s urging, leaders from union, labor, manufacturing and environmental groups worked tirelessly to develop an approach to reducing carbon emissions that would meet the Climate Commission’s recommendations.

 “Adding Maryland to the growing list of states calling for a 25 percent reduction is a major achievement, and we appreciate the governor’s strong leadership,” said Senator Paul Pinsky.  “Hopefully this will also drive the federal effort to make the necessary reductions to stabilize climate change.”

“Maryland, with its 3,100 miles of shoreline, is directly threatened by rising sea levels and flooding caused by global warming," said Delegate Kumar Barve. “We have the technological ability to clean up our air, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and move to a future free of foreign energy dependence. We cannot afford any more delay. Governor O'Malley's aggressive support has been vital, and his sponsorship of this bill will help ensure its passage.”

“Our carbon reduction goals are achievable, and we know we can meet them,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Early actions now to reduce greenhouse gas pollution will be much cheaper than in the years to come, and by putting the legislation in place, Maryland will be setting the stage for green jobs and business investments in renewable energy to green buildings and home energy efficiency.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act provides Maryland with an opportunity to move forward while still remaining flexible to support a federal program for any additional cap and trade requirements, which are far more effective at the federal level, and to meet any requirements of federal legislation anticipated to be passed within the next several years.

Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland said: “Getting ahead of the curve on global warming solutions is the smart thing to do. It will provide lasting economic and environmental benefits as we help develop the clean energy economy of the future. Governor O’Malley deserves high praise for this step in making Maryland a leader.”

“We appreciate the effort made by the State to work with all stakeholders on this critical issue,” said Jim Strong, Sub-District Director of United Steelworkers, District 8.  “The bill shows that the State can move forward and begin to address climate change in a way that protects existing manufacturing jobs. That's all we ever asked for.”

In 2008, per an Executive Order by Governor O’Malley, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change released its Climate Action Plan detailing what effects global warming will have on the State and recommending actions to protect Maryland’s property and people from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns as well as a “road map” of forty-two actions to help the state greatly reduce its global warming pollution. Preliminary estimates indicate that, by 2020, implementation of these forty-two strategies could result in a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $2 billion dollars.

A study by the Baltimore-based International Center for Sustainable Development shows that Maryland could create between 144,000 and 326,000 “green collar” and research and development jobs by developing clean energy industries, contributing $5.7 billion in wages and salaries boosting local tax revenues by $973 million and increasing gross state production by $16 billion.

Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, Maryland has begun to reduce pollution and address the serious issue of climate change through: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Clean Cars Act, and EMPOWER Maryland programs; increasing Renewable Portfolio Standards to increase our use of clean energy; enacting “living shorelines” requirements; strengthening the Critical Areas Act to protect sensitive shorelines; adopting new green building standards for public buildings and investing in green technology for schools; transitioning the state’s fleet to hybrid buses; fully funding land conservation programs; and reinstituting the Office of Smart Growth; supporting transit-friendly development; improving mass transit options; encouraging smart growth BRAC zones; and, providing both technical and financial assistance to Maryland’s coastal counties to adapt to sea level rise.

Introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in October 2008, Maryland’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative was created to strengthen the state’s leadership role in fostering smarter, more sustainable growth and inspire action among all Marylanders to achieve a more sustainable future. The Initiative brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to create more livable communities, improve transportation options, reduce the state’s carbon footprint, support resource based industry, invest in green technologies, preserve valuable resource lands and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

~ Bill summary follows ~

 

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act

Bill Summary

Background:  Maryland, with more than 3,100 miles of coastline, is the fourth most vulnerable state in the nation to the effects of climate change. Scientists worldwide agree that early carbon reductions of at least 25 percent are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Early actions now to reduce greenhouse gas pollution will be much cheaper than in the years to come, and by putting the legislation in place, Maryland will be setting the stage for green jobs and business investments in everything from renewable energy to green buildings and home energy efficiency.

Justification:  Recent State initiatives, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program, Clean Cars Act, and Empower Maryland, have put the State on track to reduce greenhouse gases by 12.5 percent -- half of the 25 percent reduction goal. These actions, along with the Climate Change Commission’s Climate Action Plan that details 42 options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrate that this reduction goal is achievable and beneficial. Preliminary estimates indicate that, by 2020, implementation of these forty-two strategies could result in a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $2 billion dollars. A study by the Baltimore-based International Center for Sustainable Development shows that Maryland could create between 144,000 and 326,000 “green collar” and research and development jobs by developing clean energy industries, contributing $5.7 billion in wages and salaries boosting local tax revenues by $973 million and increasing gross state production by $16 billion.

Legislation:  The 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction legislation would require the following:

  • By 2020, Maryland must reduce Statewide greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from 2006 levels;
  • By 2011, MDE must develop a Statewide greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a “business as usual” emissions projection for 2020; and a proposed greenhouse gas emission reduction plan for public comment;
  • By 2012, the State must adopt a final greenhouse gas emission reduction plan that includes regulations and a timeline to implement necessary programs;
  • The plan must ensure: no loss of manufacturing existing jobs; a net increase in jobs and a net economic benefit, opportunities for new “green” jobs in energy and low carbon technology fields, and no adverse impact on the reliability and affordability of electricity and fuel supplies;
  • Preservation of the State’s authority to regulate the manufacturing sector through expansion of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and, in the absence of a federal program, defers other State regulation of manufacturing sector until after the 2016 legislative review;
  • By 2015, an independent study of the economic impact of requiring greenhouse gas emission reductions from the manufacturing due to the Governor and General Assembly;
  • In 2015, a report to the Governor and General Assembly assessing: progress toward the 25 percent emissions reduction, benefits to the state’s economy, public health, and the environment, any need for further reductions, and the status of any federal greenhouse gas reduction program;
  • In 2016, the Legislature will review the progress report, the report on economic impacts on manufacturing sector, the requirements of a federal program, and other information and determine whether to continue, adjust, or eliminate the requirement to achieve a 25 percent reduction by 2020.


Additional Press Releases

Office of Governor