The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is advocating for Maryland legislators this year to approve strengthened legislation aimed at reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change.
The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 (SB 528) is scheduled for its first public hearing tomorrow—Feb. 15—at 1 p.m. in the state Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee.
Environmental groups and supporters of the legislation are scheduled to hold a rally the same day at 11 a.m. on the steps of the Maryland State House. Del. Kumar Barve and Sen. Paul Pinsky—the chairs of the House and Senate environment committees—plan to speak at the rally.
The bill would require the state to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and reduce overall emissions by 60 percent compared to 2006 levels by 2030. Reaching net-zero emissions would mean the state has identified or implemented enough natural and artificial methods—such as by reforesting land or reducing fossil fuel use—to offset the state’s emissions.
The 2022 Climate Solutions Now Act also includes actionable ways to reduce emissions by:
- Updating building standards to phase out fossil fuel use for water and space heating as well as improve energy efficiency.
- Expanding the Maryland Climate Justice Corps Program to train young adults to prepare them for green energy and climate-related jobs.
- Addressing environmental justice in communities most impacted by climate change.
- Electrifying bus and other state vehicle fleets; and
- Ensuring that state and public school buildings get most of their electricity from renewable sources.
Climate change is harming the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. In Maryland, residents are experiencing stronger storms, more overall precipitation, floods, and warmer average temperatures. In the Bay, these symptoms of climate change bring more pollutants from increasing freshwater flows, have caused changes in wildlife distributions, and can overwhelm wastewater treatment systems creating threats to human health and marine life.
Many of the methods used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, improving soil health on farms, reforesting land, and restoring wetlands will also improve Bay water quality. CBF is urging state leaders to invest in these natural filters to reach the goals of the Climate Solutions Now Act. Converting to renewable energy and adding more filters will also ensure the state meets the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint goals to reduce the primary causes of Bay water pollution—sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
CBF will also be supporting a similar package of bills in the House this year, including Comprehensive Climate Solutions (HB708). The package includes many of the same priorities as the Senate bill.
CBF’s Maryland Executive Director Josh Kurtz issued the following statement in support of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022:
“Climate Solutions Now is like the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint because the legislation addresses the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and creates actions to reduce them. Completing the emissions reduction goals, like the Blueprint’s pollution reduction goals, will require governments, businesses, and citizens to work together to improve our communities, our state, and beyond.
“Maryland can’t solve climate change on its own, but state leaders can pioneer a path for others to follow by significantly reducing the state’s emissions. We have a head start. We’ve been working for decades to improve water quality in Chesapeake Bay. Efforts to improve agricultural practices, prevent stormwater runoff with green infrastructure, and plant millions of new trees also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the fight against climate change, we should double down on these practices to ensure Maryland can protect its citizens and infrastructure as well as meet the lofty goals in this important legislation.
“We can address climate change with this holistic approach. It’s imperative because waiting is not an option. Each year that passes without action will lead to worsening long-term consequences as temperatures rise, storms get stronger, and coastal areas face inundation. We urge Maryland legislators to pass a strong version of this legislation to put the state on a sustainable path to protecting the environment for future generations.”
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