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MD Report Pushes Aggressive Climate-Action Plans

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A new Maryland report emphasizes the importance of environmental justice in forming clean energy policies. (Tom Pelton/Environmental Integrity Project)
A new Maryland report emphasizes the importance of environmental justice in forming clean energy policies. (Tom Pelton/Environmental Integrity Project)
November 24, 2020

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Environmental groups are praising a new report that recommends Maryland reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% by 2030. That's 10 years sooner than the state's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act calls for.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change Annual Report also endorses achieving net-zero emissions by 2045, and phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030.

David Smedick, senior campaign representative for the Beyond Coal Initiative at the Sierra Club's Maryland chapter, said it's the first time in years the commission is offering concrete actions lawmakers can take to reduce pollution.

"The idea that the commission has found tangible things for the state to move forward with is really exciting," Smedick said. "We've got a lot more work that needs to be done than just what's in the recommendations there. But this is a really important first step on how to combat climate change."

The report also recommends reducing tailpipe emissions, with incentives to increase the use of electric vehicles and build more battery-charging stations. It's been given to Gov. Larry Hogan and General Assembly members.

Smedick said the report shows Maryland lawmakers need to do more environmental justice work to ensure overburdened and underserved communities can benefit from clean-energy policies.

"How are we really investing more equitably into the communities that have suffered the most from the fossil-fuel industry?" He said. "There's acknowledgment that needs to happen; and now, we need to actually make it happen and hold our decision-makers accountable to ensuring that we have an equitable climate-justice plan."

The report notes Maryland has more work to do, but it also points to progress. The state slashed its carbon emissions by almost 40% between 2005 and 2017 -- more than any other state -- while growing its economy by almost 18%.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD