2023 Legislative Priorities

Maryland LCV remains committed to leading Maryland towards a future powered by 100% clean energy by 2035.

Our 2024 priorities include advances in solar across the state, environmental justice, and sustainable land and water conservation. These initiatives are integral to our work of advocating for clean water, healthy air, and climate-resilient communities for everyone in Maryland.

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Brighter Tomorrow Act (Solar Incentives)

(Senate Bill 783)

Despite Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard mandating a 14.5% solar energy carve-out by 2030, the state fell short of this goal in 2022. To achieve the ambitious aim of 100% clean energy by 2035, the “Brighter Tomorrow Act” proposes a framework to overcome barriers in solar development, focusing on strategic investment and permitting for rooftop, community, and solar projects. Endorsed by the Solar Incentives Task Force, this legislation seeks to optimize state incentives for solar energy development on preferred sites such as rooftops, parking lots, and brownfields.

  • Maryland’s current state incentive structure for solar projects may not effectively support preferred development sites, necessitating a strategic overhaul.
  • Co-locating solar projects with viable agriculture or on developed land can provide multiple benefits, including reduced transmission costs, shade for cars or grazing animals, and a diversified income stream for farmers.

What the Brighter Tomorrow Act Will Do

  • Extends and creates personal property tax exemptions for small-scale community solar projects and non-residential rooftop/parking canopy installations.
  • Establishes a consistent Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) structure for ground-mounted solar installations and raises the Aggregate Net Meter cap.
  • Implements a short-term Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) multiplier as a bridge to long-term reforms.

Why It's Important For Maryland

Removing these exemptions aligns with Maryland’s comprehensive approach to climate action, ensuring that all industries play a part in reducing emissions.

It addresses long-standing inequities in pollution distribution and supports Maryland’s trajectory towards becoming a leader in climate resilience and sustainability.

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Removing Manufacturing Exemptions from GGRA

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) of 2009 set ambitious targets for reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions but exempted the manufacturing sector from its scope. A 2022 University of Maryland study highlighted the significant contributions of manufacturing to the state’s emissions, underscoring the need to remove these exemptions to achieve the Climate Solutions Now Act’s goal of reducing emissions by 60% by 2031. This legislative change is crucial as Maryland strives to include all sectors in its climate mitigation efforts.

  • Maryland is currently the only state that exempts manufacturers from greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, according to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
  • Cement manufacturers, among the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, are specifically targeted for inclusion under the new legislative proposal.

What Removing the Exemption Will Do

  • Includes manufacturers in our emission reduction goals.
  • Revokes the exemption for new manufacturers.
  • Sets a 2023 emissions baseline for existing manufacturers, holding them accountable for future emissions increases.
  • Enables the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to assess emissions reductions from manufacturers arriving post-2023.

Why It's Important For Maryland

Removing these exemptions aligns with Maryland’s comprehensive approach to climate action, ensuring that all industries play a part in reducing emissions.

It addresses long-standing inequities in pollution distribution and supports Maryland’s trajectory towards becoming a leader in climate resilience and sustainability.

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MDE Permitting Authority

(House Bill 24 / Senate Bill 96)

The 2022 Climate Solutions Now Act enhanced Maryland’s ability to address environmental injustice by defining “overburdened” and “underserved” communities within state law. However, Maryland’s existing laws and permitting practices have fallen short of embedding this information in its decision-making, so we have not seen progress addressing inequitable pollution distribution. HB 24/SB 96 authorizes the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to consider environmental justice (EJ) in its permitting process, using tools like the MDE EJ Screen mapping tool for better-informed decisions.

  • Current permitting practices are insufficient to prevent new pollution or mitigate harm from current pollution sources in the most overburdened communities in Maryland.
  • This bill requires MDE to conduct an EJ analysis on permits submitted in communities with an EJ score above 75, which are the communities who have the highest pollution burden and the largest barriers to access resources. It also enables MDE to use the information from the EJ analysis to inform its permit decision. The types of facilities that emit pollution contributing to these disparities are primarily not part of the category of permits (§1-601(a)) included in HB 24.
  • Maryland LCV supports an amendment to add Title 5 air permits to the list of covered permits in this bill, which are the most relevant to pollution sources in overburdened communities and for people’s health.

What This MDE Permitting Bill Will Do (With Amendments)

  • Enables MDE to make decisions using EJ tools it has developed.
  • Builds on definitions from the Climate Solutions Now Act to prevent inequitable pollution distribution.
  • Expands the list of permits requiring an environmental justice analysis, ensuring meaningful coverage for overburdened communities.

Why It's Important For Maryland

As our state addresses current climate and justice crises, it is vital for Maryland to ensure that its environmental policies and practices are equitable, protecting all communities from the disproportionate impact of pollution.

By enhancing the MDE’s permitting authority, Maryland can lead by example in creating a greener, more just state for current and future generations.

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Whole Watershed Approach

(House Bill 1165 / Senate Bill 969)

Maryland’s quest to meet its 2025 Chesapeake Bay Restoration Goals faces challenges, as highlighted by the Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response (CESR) Report. Recognizing the need for a strategic shift, the WWA, championed by Senator Sarah Elfreth and Delegate Sarah Love, draws inspiration from successful models in neighboring states to prioritize effective Best Management Practices (BMPs) and focus on underserved communities. This innovative approach aims to overcome the fragmented efforts of the past, streamlining restoration across Maryland’s varied landscapes.

  • The CESR Report underscores the necessity for targeted restoration, recommending a focus on shallow waters and community-engaging interventions.
  • Pennsylvania’s rapid delisting program demonstrates the potential for focused watershed efforts to yield significant improvements.

What the Whole Watershed Act Does

  • Allocates $20M towards the implementation of whole watershed restoration projects over five years, reflecting a commitment to diverse geographies and Environmental Justice communities.
  • Employs a multi-agency State Management Team to oversee project selection, providing comprehensive support and expediting the permitting process.
  • Advocates for restoration practices that offer multiple co-benefits, thereby fostering both environmental and community health.

Why It's Important For Maryland

The WWA offers a path to not only meet but exceed Chesapeake Bay Restoration Goals. By embracing a holistic approach and prioritizing equity, Maryland sets a precedent for effective environmental stewardship, ensuring the health of its waterways for generations to come.

This initiative is a key step in Maryland’s journey towards becoming the greenest state, aligning environmental restoration with social justice.

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Fossil Fuel Transport Fee

Maryland seeks to broaden the Oil Disaster Containment, Clean-up, and Contingency Fund by imposing a fee on the transport of all fossil fuels within the state. This initiative builds upon the existing 8-cent per barrel fee for oil transfers, aiming to include coal and natural gas, thereby enhancing the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF) and addressing potential fuel price impacts for low-income households.

  • FY20 and FY22, the oil transfer fee alone generated over $6.8 million annually, funding environmental cleanup and contingency efforts.
  • Expanding this fee to cover coal and natural gas transport could significantly increase state revenue for environmental initiatives and equitable energy solutions.

What the Fossil Fuel Transport Fee Will Do

  • Extends the current fee to cover the intrastate transfer and export of coal and natural gas, aligning with Maryland’s climate action and environmental justice goals.
  • Allocates additional revenue to the SEIF for clean energy projects and supports low-income households affected by fuel price changes.
  • Encourages cleaner transportation methods and reduced reliance on fossil fuels through financial incentives and regulatory measures.

Why It's Important For Maryland

The WWA offers a path to not only meet but exceed Chesapeake Bay Restoration Goals. By embracing a holistic approach and prioritizing equity, Maryland sets a precedent for effective environmental stewardship, ensuring the health of its waterways for generations to come.

This initiative is a key step in Maryland’s journey towards becoming the greenest state, aligning environmental restoration with social justice.

Key Issues

EmPOWER Reform

Setting explicit GHG reduction goals, enabling fuel switching, and ensuring EmPOWER delivers long-term, sustainable benefits.

Renewable Portfolio Standard

Reforming the RPS to remove municipal solid waste, allowing the state to invest in truly renewable energy.

Vehicle Miles Traveled

Promoting policies that reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled in Maryland in support of emissions reductions goals.