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.