ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 7, 2009) – Today Governor O’Malley signed into law Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (SB 287/HB 315), committing the State to reduce greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020. The bill, part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s Smart, Green, and Growing legislative package, was co-sponsored by Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Kumar Barve. This legislation makes Maryland a leader in the country on reducing greenhouse gases.
“Even as the Federal government, and leaders around the world, debate how to address climate change, here in Maryland we are putting families first,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, Maryland is committing to protect the families of today, whose pocketbooks will benefit from ‘green jobs’ and energy efficiency, as well as the families of tomorrow – by taking action today we are protecting our citizens and the environment that we leave as our legacy for future generations to come. I thank lead sponsors Senator Pinsky and Delegate Barve and all Maryland legislators who supported this bill, along with the citizens who supported our efforts.”
With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, Maryland is the fourth most vulnerable state in the nation to the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. Scientists worldwide agree that early carbon reductions of at least 25 percent are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 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 to develop an approach to reducing carbon emissions that would meet the Maryland Climate Commission’s science-based recommendations and have economic benefits to the State.
MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Early actions now to reduce greenhouse gas pollution will be much cheaper than in the years to come, and Maryland agencies are already working on implementation to achieve this goal.”
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. The plan must also preserve 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.
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. Maryland Climate Change Commission’s Climate Action Plan details 42 options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 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.
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; 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.