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Senate Hears Maryland's Clean Energy Jobs Act Today

Maryland lawmakers are considering the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which supporters say will create jobs and help the state's environment. (Badger Rose)
Maryland lawmakers are considering the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which supporters say will create jobs and help the state's environment. (Badger Rose)
March 8, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - More than half of Maryland's electricity still comes from fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas.

The point behind the "Clean Energy Jobs Act" in the legislature is to raise the state's commitment to use wind and solar energy to 25 percent by 2020.

That's five percent higher and two years sooner than the current Renewable Portfolio Standard.

As lawmakers mull it over, they've been given results of an independent poll commissioned by the Maryland Climate Coalition.

Jennifer Mihills, regional director for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the National Wildlife Federation, says 71 percent of Maryland residents want to move to renewable energy more quickly.

"Support goes up to 74 percent when it's coupled with the workforce and clean energy jobs development aspects of the legislation," says Mihills. "So, knowing that it's going to create more good-paying and clean energy jobs in Maryland increases support for the legislation."

Mihills says the Clean Energy Jobs Act is expected to grow Maryland's solar market by 250 to 300 megawatts, enough to power more than 26,000 homes a year.

The legislation is also expected to create nearly 1,000 new solar industry jobs a year and 4,600 new jobs in the wind industry.

The Maryland Climate Coalition says the state has the worst air quality on the east coast, and is the third most vulnerable in America to sea-level rise driven by climate change.

Mihills says Maryland has been moving in the right direction, but not quickly enough.

"The policies that are before the General Assembly this session, including the Clean Energy Jobs Act as well as re-authorization of the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, are really important steps to take to continue to keep Maryland moving forward, and being on a path for a much more sustainable future," says Mihills.

The poll also found the issue crosses political party lines. A majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who were polled support the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD