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Report: MD Emissions Plan Will Set Climate Movement Back

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the state includes a controversial proposal to widen the Capital Beltway and add toll lanes. (Adobe Stock)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the state includes a controversial proposal to widen the Capital Beltway and add toll lanes. (Adobe Stock)
December 26, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland's climate action plan, which was released in October by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, will not help the state reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 44% by 2030 as promised, according to a new report.

Scott Williamson is a senior policy analyst at the Center for Climate Strategies, which released the report. He says the emissions-reduction estimate is based partly on an unsupported prediction that the electric vehicle industry in the state is going to explode.

"Maryland, right now, sells reliably less than 10,000 electric vehicles a year within the state," says Williamson. "And this plan basically takes on an assumption that that number is going to rocket north of 100,000. That's a pretty quick statement that the automobile market in the state is going to transform."

Officials say their proposal, plus Hogan's announcement last week of new clean-energy legislation, shows the administration's strong commitment to leading the charge on affordable clean energy, climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.

But Williamson says the draft of Maryland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act sets the entire climate movement back.

He points out that one of the plan's agendas is to reduce congestion on Maryland's I-270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore Washington Parkway. It supports Hogan's controversial proposal to widen those busy highways and install toll lanes, which the administration says will result in less traffic and less emissions.

"Case studies have found that in the very short term, this does occur," says Williamson. "They also find that what's called 'induced demand' -- or simply, more driving on these corridors -- also occurs immediately after these corridors are widened. And they continue to occur over the course of the following decade."

Maryland's Department of the Environment is holding meetings around the state over the next few months to get comment on the greenhouse-gas emissions proposal from stakeholders and the public.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD