The Environment - Overview
As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize the interdependence of all existence. We are called to seek solutions to environmental degradation in affirmation of our Seventh Principle. Most are now aware of the severe consequences of the Earth’s warming climate. This not only threatens to disrupt key ecological processes, but will exacerbate worldwide inequality as its impacts disproportionately affect marginalized groups in vulnerable regions.
2017 brings renewed opportunities for Maryland citizens to lead on climate change and renewable energy. Unitarian Universalists have always made key contributions to nationwide grassroots environmental efforts. Now more than ever we are called to lead as UUs and citizens to transform Maryland’s energy industry and protect our health and environment.
>Clean Energy is an environmental issue. A 25% clean electricity standard will have a similar reduction in carbon going into our atmosphere as removing 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road every year.
>Clean Energy is a health issue. More than 85% of Marylanders live in areas that fail to meet the nation's clean air standards. Maryland has the worst ground-level ozone pollution in the eastern U.S. This contributes to increased rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.
>Clean Energy is an economic issue. Rising ocean temperatures threaten Maryland's shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay as well as the state's tourist, crabbing and fishing industries. According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Annapolis and Baltimore will suffer more frequent flooding.
>Clean Energy is a social justice issue. Low-income people and people of color are disproportionately harmed by the increased health costs and the decrease in good-paying jobs. Based on the U.S. Department of Energy's Jobs and Economic Development Indicator, this legislation would incentivize nearly 1,600 new Maryland jobs per year in the solar industry. It is expected to generate roughly 18,000 direct jobs throughout the wind supply chain in our region.
UULM-MD is a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition. With the Coalition, we have two priority clean energy bills during the 2016 Session of the Maryland General Assembly: the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act--Reauthorization (SB323/HB610) and the Clean Energy Jobs--Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions (SB921/HB1106).
In 2015, UULM-MD supported the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (SB409/HB449), which extended the moratorium on fracking in Maryland to 2017. We also supported the Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015 which was not successful. In the past century, Maryland has experienced rising temperatures, increased precipitation, more severe weather events and a rise in sea levels. These trends are predicted to continue or worsen if climate change progresses unchecked. The largest economic impact for Maryland will be on its coastal infrastructure and development. By the end of this century, 262 miles of Maryland coastline, including parts of Baltimore, Annapolis and Ocean City, will be vulnerable to sea level rise, putting millions of people and billions of dollars at risk.
UULM-MD has supported the 2007 Clean Cars Act, which reduces tailpipe emission levels and strengthens fuel economy standards; the 2006 Healthy Air Act, which regulates emissions levels from power plants; and the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which provided for an offshore wind farm off the Atlantic Coast of Maryland.In 2009, UUs worked tirelessly for the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Act. Passage of this bill established Maryland as a national leader on climate change by setting a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 2006 levels by 2020.