Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is advocating more than
150 programs and initiatives that support his state’s ambitious goal of
reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2020, a plan that goes
farther than any other state except Massachusetts.
With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, Maryland is one
of many US states at highest risk for sea level rise.
Aside from supporting a 55 million metric ton reduction in GHG
emissions, the plan will generate $1.6 billion in economic benefits, create
more than 37,000 jobs and positively impact public health, Governor O’Malley
told business leaders, scientists, and environmental and renewable energy
advocates who attended his state’s summit on climate change last week in
“Climate change is not an ideological issue any more than
gravity is: it’s not about whether we move left or right, but whether we make
the right choices for Marylanders. As severe weather events continue to grow in
size and impact, and elongated trends of poor air quality continue, the costs
of inaction would grow exponentially,” says Governor O’Malley. “In Maryland, we
are moving forward and taking action by creating green jobs and protecting our
land, water, air and public health.”
For more than six years, Governor O’Malley has been one
of the most vocal national leaders for taking action on fighting climate
change. Many of the programs announced in late July are expansions of existing
efforts, meant to accelerate progress toward the bigger goals. He signed the
state’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009, requiring Maryland to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% from a 2006 baseline by 2020. The act will
be up for another vote in 2015, which means state lawmakers will have to decide
whether to stick with it or develop a new framework.
Governor O’Malley’s administration isn’t waiting around
for that. Here are some of the main strategies that support the state’s
Accelerated renewable portfolio standards – The state
currently requires for Maryland power providers to source 18% of electricity
from renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 20% by 2022. The new plan seeks
an increase beyond the 20% to drive additional GHG emissions reductions.
Earlier this year, Maryland became the first state to subsidize offshore wind
development, which is being held back by huge upfront costs for developers. It is also one of the "Dazzling Dozen" states leading the way in solar installations.
Strengthened energy-efficiency measures – The EmPOWER
Maryland program aims to reduce both Maryland’s per capita total electricity
consumption and peak load demand by 15% by 2015, but the governor is calling
for a higher goal.
A zero waste target – The state is adopting a strategy to
ensure all products in Maryland can be reused, recycled or composted.
Currently, the state requires that 60% of "government managed" waste
be better utilized or recycled by 2020. The average county recycling rate is
Tougher emissions standards – The Maryland Clean Cars
Program directly regulates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, effective with model
year 2011 vehicles.
Improved regional cooperation – Maryland is part of the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cooperative cap-and-trade initiative that
includes nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The RGGI voted to lower the
regional emissions cap, and Maryland will work on changing its own standards
Many of these programs are in place; they will be
strengthened through new policies and policies, says Governor O’Malley.
have strong support within the state: a recent George Mason University report
shows that 86% of Marylanders believe climate change is happening, while
three-quarters of them believe that state and local governments should take
action to protect communities from the impacts.
“Science is clear that climate change is occurring, is
caused primarily by human activities and poses significant risks to Maryland as
it does to the rest of the world” says Don Boesch, president of the University
of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Significant reductions in
emissions must be made over just a few decades to avoid the worst of the
consequences and Maryland has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead.”
Learn more about Maryland’s ambitious Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Act Plan, and the initiatives supporting it: