2021 Session Report
Unfortunately, The House and Senate were unable to reach a compromise on Climate Solutions Now Act (SB 414). However, several components of the bill were incorporated into other bills that passed. This includes the provisions for the Electric School Buses which were incorporated into the Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act (SB 137) and the planting of 5 million trees, which was incorporated into the Forest Mitigation Banks - Qualified Conservation (HB 991).
The Transportation Safety and Investment Act (HB 114) passed, but was vetoed by Governor Hogan. The veto was overridden in the Special Session on December 6th.
We were also monitoring the following legislation:
The Utility Regulation - Consideration of Labor and Climate Act (HB 298) passed. This bill requires the Public Service Commission to consider impacts on climate and labor in decisions.
The Community Choice Energy - Pilot Act (HB 768) passed.
The Low-Impact Landscaping bill (HB 332) passed. Prohibits restrictions from imposing unreasonable limitations on low-impact landscaping such as rain gardens, pollinator gardens, and xeriscaping.
The Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities - Reform Bill (HB 1207) passed.
The Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act (SB 137) passed. Requires, beginning in 2023, Maryland Transit Administration to purchase buses that are zero-emission.
The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Qualifying Biomass (SB 65) passed which takes Black Liquor out of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
The Office of People's Counsel Environmental Reform Act (HB 30) passed.
The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems (HB 1007) passed including geothermal heat pumps in the RPS.
The Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion - Food Residuals (HB 264) passed. Requires compostable food waste from large sources to be composted if a facility in nearby.
The Maryland Recycling Act - Recyclable Materials and Resource Recovery Facilities - Alterations (HB 280) passed, removing incineration ash from the RPS.
Water Pollution - Stormwater Management Regulations and Watershed Implementation Plans - Review and Update (SB 227) passed. Requires stormwater regulations to be updated every 5 years incorporating updated precipitation data.
Finally, The Safe School Drinking Water Act (HB 636) passed, requiring removal of lead from school drinking fountains.
2020 Session Report
The Maryland General Assembly was cut short in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Unfortunately, even though they had wanted to consider a number of climate and environmental issues in the 2020 session, we were unable to get any Climate Change legislation passed.
Our main priority was the Climate Solutions Act of 2020- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) Reform - SB 926/HB 1425, which would bring our greenhouse gas reduction targets in line with leading global science by increasing the 2030 reduction target from 40% to 60% relative to 2011 and establishing a 2045 target for net zero emissions.
Public Transportation Infrastructure was another priority with multiple bills including: Transportation, Housing Density and Land Use which would reduce residential and transportation-based emissions by allowing more people to affordably live in densely-populated areas, legalizing duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in neighborhoods close to transit and jobs. As well as , Public Transit Funding - HB 368/SB 424- which would have provided essential support for public transit by increasing capital fuding for the Maryland Transit Administration by $175 million a year to close a shortfall identified in the Capital Needs Inventory, so as to improve rider safety and service, and access to local bus, commuter bus, light rail, metro subway, paratransit and MARC. Finally, the Electric Buses, Cars, and Infrastructure - HB 432/SB 423 would have promoted the increase in electric vehicles required to reduce transportation-based emissions by committing MTA to enter into contracts that only purchase electric buses starting in 2022. Supports expansion of charging stations, especially in multi-unit housing.
2019 Session Report
As a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, we focused on HB 1158/SB 516 - The Clean Energy Jobs Act. It provided for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 50% renewable energy supply for electricity by 2030 and development of a plan for 100% RPS by 2050. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) require that electricity suppliers buy a share of their power from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, Maryland passed their first standards in 2004. In 2009, Maryland enacted the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGERA), one of the strongest plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the US. Originally, the clean renewable goal for electricity was 7.5% by 2019. That goal has since been raised several times and was increased to 25% by 2020 with the passage of the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, SB 323/HB 610. The bill also removed subsidies for trash incineration.
This bill ensured that we were not increasing economic inequality, as Maryland invested more into Renewable Energy Industries. It was a unique partnership between government agencies, labor groups and clean energy stakeholders to develop funding opportunities to invest in job training, capital and loans to help minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses. Seeking funding opportunities to invest in job training would benefit economically distressed regions of the state and remove barriers for entry in the clean energy economy.
On Wednesday, May 22, Governor Hogan announced that he would allow the Clean Energy Jobs Act to become law without his signature.
2017 Session Report
Two victories were obtained this year:
Early in the session, the General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of HB 1106 passed in 2016, the Clean Energy--Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Revision Bill. As it is now effective, the law increases Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 25% by 2020 and created funding for workforce development and minority and women-owned businesses in the clean energy sector.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed and the Governor signed HB 1325, imposing a complete ban on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas production in the State.
During the session, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) considered two proposals to build wind turbines off Maryland’s Atlantic coast that would make our State the home to some of the nation's first — and by far its largest — offshore wind farms. UULM-MD presented signatures from over 250 UUs, and UULM-MD leaders testified in Ocean City and Annapolis in support of both proposals. In May, the PSC approved both proposals, stating that it would "position Maryland as a national leader in offshore wind energy." The wind farms are expected to prevent emissions of hundreds of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide and create some 5,000 jobs and $74 million in state tax revenue.
2016 Session Report
UULM-MD is a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, a coalition of environmental, faith, business, health and labor groups, is joining with these organizations to call for the renewal of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGRA) and an increased Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 25% by 2020 for Maryland.
In 2016, we supported two bills, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act--Reauthorization (SB323/HB610) and theClean Energy Jobs--Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions (SB921/HB1106).
In addition to reauthorizing the requirement of 25% by 2020, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act--Reauthorization (SB323/HB610) requires the State to reduce statewide GHG emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030. It also requires the plan to have a positive impact on job creation and economic growth in Maryland.
The Clean Energy Jobs--Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions (SB921/HB1106) establishes the Clean Energy Workforce Account in the Maryland EARN Program, providing for the funding for workforce development and support for minority and women-owned businesses in the clean energy sector.
Over half of Maryland’s electricity still comes from carbon-spewing fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. These dirty fuels are bad for our health, our economy, our climate, and our energy security. As the state that is the third most vulnerable in America to sea-level rise driven by climate change, and with the worst air quality on the east coast, we need to act now to curb our dependence on fossil fuels. And clean energy has already proven itself to be a powerful driver of economic development in Maryland, including job creation.
That’s why the Maryland Climate Coalition is working to increase the state’s clean energy standard, called the “Renewable Portfolio Standard.” It’s time to raise Maryland’ commitment to clean energy like wind and solar to 25% by 2020.
2015 Session Report
UULM-MD, a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, supported the Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015, SB373/HB377. This legislation would have increased the minimum percentage of energy supplied to Maryland consumers that must come from clean, renewable sources to 25% by 2020 with an aspirational goal of 40% by 2025. The bill was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee, but we expect similar, revised legislation to be introduced in 2016.
Clean Energy is an environmental issue. A 40% clean electricity standard will have a similar reduction in carbon going into our atmosphere as removing 2 million 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. By increasing the clean electricity standard.
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 and substantially more in the wind industry.
In 2015, UULM-MD supported the Environment-Hydraulic Fracturing-Regulations, SB409/HB449. This legislation would prohibit issuing a permit for hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration or production of natural gas until April 30, 2023 and until certain requirements have been met, including information on the human and environmental consequences of the natural gas drilling process known as "fracking."