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2021 Legislative Session Falls Short on Significant Climate Action but Brings Noteworthy Environmental Advances, says Maryland LCV

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2021                                                            

2021 Legislative Session Falls Short on Significant Climate Action but Brings Noteworthy Environmental Advances, says Maryland LCV

Annapolis, MD – Significant victories for Maryland’s environment were achieved during the 2021 Legislative Session, including advances in transit funding, a reformed Environmental Justice Commission, and a commitment to transition the state’s bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles, according to the state’s leading environmental watchdog group, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. The legislature failed to address the urgency of climate change, however, by allowing the Climate Solutions Now Act to languish in the bureaucratic process.

“The session was unprecedented in many ways because of the coronavirus, but Marylanders on the whole should be proud of the breakthroughs that were made on important environmental issues,” said Kim Coble, Maryland LCV’s executive director. “The transit funding bill will mean safer, and more equitable transit options for Marylanders, with the associated benefit of providing family-sustaining jobs. A reformed Environmental Justice Commission similarly sets us on a path for a more equitable Maryland, with fairer representation of more community members. And transitioning the state’s bus fleet to zero-emissions buses will be a win-win for budgets, communities, and our public health.

Coble expressed disappointment that the two chambers could not reach agreement and pass the Climate Solutions Now bill. 

“This bill would have taken steps in the right direction, particularly with regards to setting a definitive goal of net-zero emissions by 2045,” said Coble. “Science tells us we need stronger, faster emissions reductions to meaningfully address the urgency of the climate crisis, and statewide polling tells us that’s what Maryland voters want. It is disappointing that for the second year in a row, legislators were not able to pass a comprehensive bill that would adequately address the climate crisis.

The Environmental Justice Commission Reform bill took steps forward to start to address environmental justice in Maryland. The Commission’s work will be critical if the state is to take the strong actions that are needed. “In the big picture, we still lack a comprehensive framework that advances equitable and just environmental policies in Maryland,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Maryland LCV deputy executive director and director of Chispa Maryland. “We look forward to working with the reformed Commission to not only stop harmful pollution, but also support solutions that are community driven and geared toward creating social and economic opportunities in impacted communities.” 

“Marylanders should feel proud that we came together during this difficult legislative session to achieve progress on key environmental legislation,” said Coble. “And those of us working in the trenches also greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication of our legislators over the past three months, especially under uniquely difficult conditions. We applaud the members and staff of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of General Services for their diligence and leadership and look forward to working with them to take even bolder steps to address the climate crisis in the very near future.”

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Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8th, 2021

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act
Group applauds passage of landmark bill to address longtime transit maintenance backlog, improve safety, reliability, equity and access; cautions that it’s a first step in a long process to shore up system

Annapolis, MD – A broad statewide coalition hailed final passage of the Transit Safety & Investment Act (HB 114), a critical measure to improve public transportation across the state. The bi-partisan bill, championed by Sens. Cory McCray and Craig Zucker and Del. Brooke Lierman, mandates minimum funding levels in MTA’s six year capital budget to begin to close the $2 billion gap in the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA’s) maintenance backlog. 

The coalition brought together supporters from a wide array of organizations: environmental, transportation, business, labor, disability rights, civil rights, education, workforce development, faith, healthcare, and community.

“For too long, our transportation system has been underinvested, affecting job security and the economy. This ends today, as the Act ensures that Maryland makes investments that meet capital needs so that we may have a safe and reliable transit system,” said Senator Cory McCray, representing Baltimore City’s district 45. “As a native of Baltimore City, in middle school and high school I had to take two buses to and from school. And that’s what this is really all about: making sure our children can get to school, our seniors can pick-up prescriptions, and that those who find public transit a necessity can depend on it.” 

The legislation mandates an average minimum amount of $451 million annually for MTA capital needs for the next six years, plus a minimum of $319 million in a seventh year, fiscal year 2029. The mandate ensures that the MTA will get close to the $462 million it needs to chip away at its backlog of deferred state of good repair needs. It will help maintain safety systems, bus shelters, buses, light rail, subway and MARC tracks and switches, and more.

“In infrastructure, you get what you pay for – and for the past six years, the Hogan Administration has refused to adequately fund our transit system. That has meant poor service, broken buses, unsafe rail, and aging infrastructure,” said Delegate Brooke Lierman, representing Baltimore City’s district 46. “By passing the Transit Safety & Investment Act, the General Assembly has declared that Marylanders deserve safe and reliable transit to get them to work, to school, to the doctor and to other destinations. MTA has done the work of identifying the projects it needs to complete to have a robust and on-time system, and with this guaranteed funding over the next several years they will be able to undertake those important projects, helping to transform our region and building more prosperous families.”

“We are finally making sure the money hits the road with this strong investment  in our transportation infrastructure. I applaud all those who worked so hard to make this reality.”
Senator Craig Zucker, representing Montgomery County’s district 14. 

Maryland’s metro subway, light rail, bus and commuter rail system is ranked among the worst states in the country for breakdowns and delays and its paratransit service is failing. The new funding will improve service and reliability and ensure the system’s trains, buses and facilities are safe. The bill also passed with an amendment sponsored by Senator Corderman that would require the Maryland Department of Transportation to study the cost and feasibility of expanding MARC service to Western Maryland.

The coalition is calling on Governor Hogan to sign the measure or allow it to pass into law when it reaches his desk. The group also stressed that while this legislation is an important step to improving public transit in Maryland, a lot remains to be done to modernize and expand the system so that it works for everyone.

Advocates from around the state weighed in on the legislation: 

“Essential workers who rely on MTA service have made an incalculable contribution to the public’s health and well-being throughout the pandemic; they deserve a first class transit system, not one riddled with delays and long-neglected repairs. The road to recovery is long but, thanks to the passage of the Transit Safety and Investment Act, we have taken an important first step toward building a safe, reliable transit system for our essential workers and riders.”
Elizabeth Bunn, Maryland State Director, Labor Network for Sustainability

“We are elated that the Maryland General Assembly has taken this crucial first step to improve the public transit system in Maryland.  Maryland LCV’s own polling found that 76% of Maryland voters said that increasing the availability and quality of public transportation options should be a priority. It is great to see that legislators listened to their constituents. We can now begin to ensure Marylanders will have access to a reliable and safe transit system over individual transport, which is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.”
-Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters

“The passage of the Transit Safety and Investments Act puts urgent funding for an equitable, safe, and reliable public transportation system for Maryland in the hands of the people and their legislators – just where the future of transit belongs!”
Samuel Jordan, President, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition 

“This funding will help MTA fix their backlog of repairs. We hear complaints from transit riders about breakdowns, no-show buses, and riders in wheelchairs getting passed up by buses because bus wheelchair ramps are broken. It’s my hope that this funding will help improve the quality of service transit riders in Maryland receive for years to come.”
– Brian O’Malley, President & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance

“We are thrilled that the Transit Safety & Investment Act passed the General Assembly. This bill is a priority for the Sierra Club and the Maryland environmental community. All Marylanders deserve a safe and reliable transit system that reduces climate pollution and improves mobility.”
Josh Tulkin, Director, Maryland Sierra Club

By |2021-04-08T15:08:54-04:00April 8th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Policy, Press|0 Comments

Four Covid-friendly Ways Marylanders Can Celebrate Earth Day 2021

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 5, 2021

Four Covid-friendly Ways Marylanders Can Celebrate Earth Day 2021

The pandemic has reminded Marylanders how valuable our green spaces are — and how fortunate we are to live in a state with such extraordinary natural resources, from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to the mountains of Western Maryland. Here are four ideas from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters on how to safely celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and throughout the year.

  1. Enjoy one of Maryland’s extraordinary protected areas with your family or loved ones.  Learn about our state parks on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website at www.dnr.maryland.gov

  2. Gather the folks in your “bubble” and spend a few hours tidying up one of your local green spaces, such as a local creek bed or park.

  3. Help sustain and diversify Maryland’s environmental movement by supporting groups like Black Girls Vote Maryland (which empowers Black women in Baltimore and beyond to use their voting power on key issues) or Chispa Maryland, which ensures that Maryland Latinx families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future.

  4. Pledge this Earth Day to become a “conservation voter.” If we are going to preserve Maryland’s environmental and public health for future generations, we need to make environmental conservation a top priority with Maryland’s decision-makers. Get to know your representatives on the state and local level and tell them that environmental issues are important to you.

By |2021-04-05T14:29:56-04:00April 5th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: |0 Comments

Maryland LCV Statement on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan

Maryland LCV Statement on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan

Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters, released the following statement today in response to the “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan announced by President Joe Biden.

“The Build Back Better plan is exactly what Maryland needs to aggressively address challenges to our infrastructure, our climate, and our communities. Our recent polling shows that Marylanders strongly support policies to improve transportation infrastructure and address climate change in the state.

It is important that we recognize that Maryland is already paying a high price for its aging infrastructure, associated pollution, and climate change. Our communities of color are disproportionately burdened by pollution and a lack of investment. If we fail to act, the price to address these challenges will only get higher. President Biden’s plan, coupled with key legislation now making its way through the Maryland General Assembly, will help our communities be healthy and thrive and make needed investments in transportation and clean energy infrastructure in Maryland.”

By |2021-03-31T13:06:46-04:00March 31st, 2021|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Compounding crises: How climate change and COVID-19 disproportionately impact women

Compounding crises: How climate change and COVID-19 disproportionately impact women

What do the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common? They both disproportionately impact women, especially women of color.

Throughout the course of the pandemic women have left the workforce in alarming numbers and have lost an average of 5.4 million jobs in the United States — 1 million more than their male counterparts. And, women of color are being hit the hardest by the pandemic and by the effects of climate change.

In December of 2020, women of color accounted for ALL of the recorded job losses, and 154,000 Black women left the labor force entirely. Women are expected to balance careers and provide financial support while also being the dominant caretakers of children and family at home. In many communities, especially rural communities and communities of color, this caretaking means tending to the home, looking after children, assisting aging family members, acquiring resources for the family, and providing emotional support.

Similarly, many social, economic, and cultural inequities make women more likely to absorb the very real impacts of climate change. For example, women are more likely than men to face economic insecurity, and people living in poverty are exposed to climate disasters at a greater rate. Women have less access to civic rights and land acquisition opportunities, are less often in decision-making positions, and face systematic violence in every institution. And, the ever-worsening effects of climate change — drought, fires, natural disasters, food shortages — make women’s role as caretakers increasingly more difficult

This is why solutions to both the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic need to not only center and uplift women, but must be made with them! Existing policy and infrastructure must shift to support and elevate women and mothers, and change the culture of caretaking in our country. Creating a world that works for women is imperative to an equitable, sustainable future.

Women are resilient changemakers who shape the face of policy and progress across the globe. Even during a global pandemic, 2020 became a record year of firsts for the United States, with Kamala Harris becoming the first Black and South Asian woman to be elected as vice president, Deb Haaland becoming the first Indigenous cabinet secretary, Katherine Tai becoming the first woman of color and first Asian American serving as US trade representative, Dr. Rachel Levine becoming the first openly transgender person confirmed in a federal post, and many more amazing women taking their place in our government — including, of course, the women legislators of Maryland

The current Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Delegate Adrienne Jones, is the first woman and the first person of color to hold that spot, and she is supported by Speaker Pro-Tem, Sheree Sample-Hughes. President Pro-Tem, Melony Griffith, in the Senate is also a woman of color. Women lead half of the House of Delegates Committees and one quarter of the Senate Committees. In fact, the current Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus is the largest in our state’s history, representing 30% of the Senate and 43% of the House of Delegates. While this is not equal representation, it is substantial progress from the government our mothers and grandmothers would recognize.

It’s on all of us to build a more equitable and safer planet — and that means centering women, especially women of color. We must also choose to confront sexism, dismantle the patriarchy, and challenge white supremacy, every day.

Here’s to the progress that we’ve made and to the fight ahead!

In Solidarity,

The Women of Maryland LCV

By |2021-03-29T10:59:10-04:00March 29th, 2021|Categories: Blog, DEIJ|Tags: , |0 Comments

Kristen’s Democracy Kitchen- Episode 2 Crossover Cake

Join Maryland LCV for another episode of “Kristen’s Democracy Kitchen” and this time we are making Crossover Cake!  Crossover Day is a major milestone in the 90-day legislative session, but what exactly is it?
Our Political Director, Kristen Harbeson, will take you into her newly renovated Baltimore kitchen to decipher the Maryland legislative process while making a delicious and Crossover-appropriate cake! Check out our facebook page for our premiere event as we go through our 2021 legislative priorities and answer live questions from the audience. 

As the political voice for Maryland’s environment, we work at the intersection of climate, equity, and state politics to address the most urgent environmental issues of our time: climate change and environmental injustice. We look forward to working with you to raise our political voice to support clean water, healthy air, and a resilient climate for everyone in Maryland.

Check out the printable recipe below or download recipe here.

Kristen’s Crossover Cake Recipe

Organizations Across Maryland Applaud State Senate for Passing Groundbreaking “Climate Solutions Now” Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE     

March 12, 2021                          

Contact: 

Laura Cofsky, laura@chesapeakeclimate.org, 202-642-9336
Jamie DeMarco, jamie@chesapeakeclimate.org, 443-845-5601
Dannielle Lipinski, dlipinski@mdlcv.org, 443-617-7257
AJ Metcalf, ametcalf@cbf.org, 443-482-2023

Organizations Across Maryland Applaud State Senate for Passing Groundbreaking “Climate Solutions Now” Act
The bill, which has attracted widespread support, is the most ambitious climate legislation to ever be proposed in Maryland and could set a new tone for the entire country

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Today, in its strongest action to date on climate change, the Maryland State Senate passed the “Climate Solutions Now” Act SB0414/ HB0583 by a vote of 34-11. The bill sets strong new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 2030 through actions ranging from greater energy efficiency, the planting of millions of trees, and commitments to electric vehicles. This is one of the strongest such bills of any state in the nation.

If passed by the full General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Hogan, the “Climate Solutions Now Act” would align Maryland’s emissions reduction requirements with the latest climate science by increasing our 2030 emissions reduction goal from 40% to 60%. It would also improve the Maryland Department of Environment’s “Climate Action Plan,” invest in frontline and disadvantaged communities through the creation of a climate justice workgroup, and put workers first in climate action.

“Climate Change is a pressing issue that we cannot ignore,” stated Senate President Bill Ferguson. “Passing the Climate Solutions Now Act, is critical to ensure that Maryland is doing everything we can to clean our environment, address environmental justice, and prepare for the jobs of the future.”

It would also reduce greenhouse gas pollution with the following actions:

  • Increasing Energy Efficiency: The bill increases our electricity efficiency requirements from 2% annual rate savings to 2.75%, moving Maryland into the top tier of the country.
  • Electrifying State Vehicles: The bill will require 100% of new state busses to be zero emission after 2022 and 100% of light duty vehicles to be zero emission after 2024.
  • Requiring Zero Emissions Public Buildings: The bill requires all new buildings with at least 25% of their funding coming from the state to meet net zero emissions building standards. Public schools, with the exception of one of the next five in each school system, are exempted.
  • Plant 5 Million Trees: To aid carbon sequestration, the bill will require the state to plant 500,000 additional trees every year for ten years. Ten percent of those will be planted in historically redlined, underserved urban communities.
  • Boost Rooftop Solar: The bill will require all new buildings with at least 25,000 square feet of roof space to be solar-ready.
  • Invest in Healthy Soils: The bill sends $500,000 each year to the Maryland’s Healthy Soils Program to aid soil sequestration strategies. 

“The science is clear, we can no longer wait to take action against the climate crisis,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “We applaud the senate for taking definitive action today in support of the Climate Solutions Now Act. This is a huge leap forward in correcting the long standing inequity of climate pollution in communities of color and fighting climate change. We look forward to the House voting on this critical piece of legislation and urge their support to protect our climate and our communities.”

“Thanks to the leadership of President Ferguson and Chairman Pinsky, the Maryland Senate just voted to entirely eliminate our impact on the climate in just 23 years. This is truly a historic day.” Said Jamie DeMarco, Maryland Policy Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund

As the state with the second-most tidal shore communities at risk of flooding, Maryland is already starting to lose islands (like Fox Island) in the Chesapeake Bay due to sea level rise. Maryland’s flooding risk extends far beyond waterfront areas, as was evidenced during two “thousand-year floods” in Ellicott City within 22 months. Rising temperatures have already damaged the health of the Chesapeake Bay, weakening the tourism and seafood industries that support many Maryland livelihoods. Maryland has the fourth most premature deaths in the nation caused by dirty energy-created air pollution. The 2020s are projected to bring more severe storms, more dangerous flooding, and more extreme heat.

“Every Marylander will feel the effects of climate change,” said Josh Kurtz, Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland Executive Director. “Many already have. Storms are increasing in ferocity, sea levels are rising, and our coastal communities are threatened. Climate change is making the Chesapeake Bay clean-up tougher and warmer water temperatures are depriving Bay life of oxygen. Today’s vote by the Maryland Senate shows state leaders are prepared to face this threat head-on. The Climate Solutions Now Act will add five million new trees throughout Maryland and ensure the state reduces greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, buildings, and other sources. As the House takes up the bill in earnest, we’ll continue our strong advocacy for this legislation.”

The bill is sponsored by Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky (D-Prince Georges) and Delegate Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County), and has been championed by over 100 Maryland organizations, many of which belong to the Climate Solutions Now Coalition. “Climate Solutions Now Act” will now cross over to the Maryland House, where it’ll be heard first by the Environment and Transportation committee. 

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The Climate Solutions Now Coalition is a statewide umbrella group bringing together dozens of organizations and individuals working to strengthen Maryland’s response to climate change.  

Organizations in the Climate Solutions Now Coalition:

  • 350 Montgomery County
  • Alliance for Livable Communities
  • Archdiocese of Washington
  • Arden Group, LLC
  • Arundel Rivers Federation
  • Assateague Coastal Trust
  • Audubon Naturalist Society
  • Audubon Society of Central Maryland
  • Baltimore Blue+Green+Just
  • Baltimore Green Space
  • Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement
  • Baltimore Tree Trust
  • Bikemore
  • Black By Nature
  • Blue Water Baltimore
  • Blueberry Gardens
  • Brooke Carroll Consulting
  • CEPA
  • Chapman Forest Foundation
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund
  • Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • City of Annapolis
  • City of College Park, MD
  • Clean Air Prince George’s
  • Cleanwater linganore Inc.
  • Climate Change Working Group of Frederick County
  • Climate Justice Wing
  • Climate Law & Policy Project
  • Climate Reality Project Baltimore
  • Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis
  • Climate XChange Maryland
  • Connecting the Dots
  • Creation Care Action & Advocacy of the Baltimore-Washington Conf of UMC
  • Deering Health Associates
  • Defensores de la Cuenca
  • Echotopia LLC
  • El Andoreigo Restaurant
  • Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Laurel
  • Environmental Justice Ministry Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
  • Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park
  • Friends of Quincy Run Watershed
  • Friends of Sligo Creek
  • Green Team at St. Vincent de Paul Church
  • Green Towson Alliance
  • Greenbelt Climate Action Network
  • GreenGrace (Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners)
  • GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic
  • Grow Home Inc
  • Halls Choice Farm, Ltd
  • Healthy Soils Frederick
  • Howard County Climate Action
  • Howard County Conservancy
  • Indivisible
  • Indivisible Howard County
  • Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
  • Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
  • Ji’Aire’s Workgroup
  • Kittamaqundi Community Church
  • League of Women Voters of Maryland
  • Lovely Yarns
  • Main Street Oriental Rugs
  • Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights
  • Maryland Catholics for Our Common Home
  • Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  • Maryland Legislative Coalition
  • Maryland Sierra Club
  • Memorial Episcopal Church
  • Miche Booz Architect
  • MOM’s Organic Market
  • Mont Co Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
  • Montgomery Countryside Alliance
  • Mother Earth Project
  • Multifaith Alliance of Climate Stewards
  • Multifaith Alliance of Climate Stewards- Frederick CO
  • National Aquarium
  • NeighborSpace of Baltimore County
  • Nuclear Information and Resource Service (for a carbon-free, nuclear-free world)
  • OK Natural Foods
  • Parks and People Foundation
  • Patapsco Heritage Greenway
  • Pearlstone Center
  • Potomac Conservancy
  • Preservation Maryland
  • Prince George’s Justice and Advocacy Council
  • Prince George’s County Young Democrats
  • Public Justice Center
  • Purple Mountain Organics
  • Quaker Voice of Maryland
  • Qualihall Endeavors
  • Rachel Carson Council
  • Rock Creek Conservancy, Inc.
  • Safe Healthy Playing Fields Inc.
  • Safe Skies Maryland
  • Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
  • Severn River Association
  • ShoreRivers
  • Southern Maryland Fair Skies Coalition
  • Stony Run Friends Meeting (Quakers)
  • Strong Future Maryland
  • Sunrise Movement Baltimore
  • Sunrise Movement Howard County
  • Sunrise Movement Maryland (representing 7 hubs)
  • Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee
  • The Backyard Naturalist
  • The Biz Center Renewable Energy Incubator
  • The Community Ecology Institute
  • The Green Commuter, Kinetic Artistry
  • The Wise Steward, Inc
  • Transition Howard County
  • Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland
  • Waterkeepers Chesapeake
By |2021-03-12T14:05:34-05:00March 12th, 2021|Categories: Climate Change, Press|Tags: , |0 Comments