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'Climate Solutions Now Act' Heads to Gov. Hogan's Desk

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Friday, April 1, 2022   

The Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation that, if signed into law, would strengthen the state's commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and limiting fossil fuels in the state.

The Climate Solutions Now Act would require Maryland to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse-gas emissions by 2045. The bill would require large commercial and multifamily buildings to reduce emissions 20% by 2030. It also would mandate the state begin efforts to electrify its school-bus fleet.

By enacting this law, said Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's County, one of its sponsors, Maryland can play a role in protecting the planet.

"Sea-level rise, severe storms, flooding are getting worse. And whether it's in Annapolis, more days there'll be flooding and people can't open their doors for business, or in Fells Point, the same situation," he said. "We can't wait. We have to move forward and I'm encouraged that we can move forward."

The bill passed in both chambers and now heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan, who has expressed criticism and could veto it. If he does, lawmakers would have time for an override vote before the 90-day session ends April 11. Pinsky said he believes they have enough votes to do so if needed.

During the last week of lengthy debate, the bill was slimmed down significantly, including removing mandates for net-zero emissions in construction of all new school buildings.

Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said he thinks the bill lays important groundwork but doesn't go far enough.

"When it was all words, everybody seemed comfortable with the idea of electrifying all new buildings," he said. "Once it was legislation, they were not as comfortable. And the utilities, especially, turned to a campaign of 'shock and awe' to scare legislators."

In a November 2021 report, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change issued a bipartisan recommendation to the General Assembly to mandate that all new buildings in the state - starting no later than 2024 - be fully electric for space heating, hot water and other needs.


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