- Last Thursday, the Maryland House of Delegates approved legislation that commits the state to cut its economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2006 levels by 2030, the Baltimore Sun reports.
- The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for a signature after the 100-37 vote. The Maryland Senate passed SB 323, its version of the legislation, by a 38-8 vote in February.
- The new goal was proposed by the state's Climate Change Commission, which includes members from the legislature, businesses, nonprofit groups and agency secretaries appointed by the governor, according to the Sun.
If Gov. Hogan signs the greenhouse gas reduction bill, it would make his state a national leader in the policy field. Only California and New York have stronger emission reduction measures and both came through executive actions, not the kind of bipartisan commitment shown in Maryland.
The state currently has a goal to cut emissions 25% by 2020, and the increase to a 40% goal aws was unanimously recommended by Maryland’s bipartisan Commission on Climate Change late last year.
The commission was created by a 2007 executive order from then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and includes 16 state agency heads and six members of the General Assembly. Its principal responsibility was to develop a the Climate Action Plan “to address the drivers of climate change, to prepare for its likely impacts in Maryland, and to establish goals and timetables for implementation.”
The plan emphasized Maryland’s particular vulnerability to sea level rise, increased storm intensity, extreme droughts and heat waves, and increased wind and rainfall events. It acknowledged that human activities such as coastal development, burning of fossil fuels, and increasing GHG emissions contribute to the causes and have consequences.
The bill does not specify how the state would cut 40% of its greenhouse gas pollution, but directs the state Department of Environment to submit an emissions reduction plan by the end of 2019. Generators based in Maryland produced 502 GWh of coal-fired electricity in Dec. 2015 and 304 GWh from natural gas, according to the EIA.