Maryland LCV Celebrates Progress on Climate and Environment Policies in 2024 Legislative Session

Annapolis, MD, April 9, 2024 – The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) applauds the progress made during the 2024 legislative session in protecting Maryland’s air, land, water, and communities. The 2024 session came to a close with the passage of several critical environmental bills, marking progress in the state’s efforts to combat climate change and advance environmental justice. Maryland LCV, along with a community of environmental advocates, played a major role in crafting and supporting these bills, working closely with the Moore Administration, leadership in the General Assembly, and communities around the state. 

Key Maryland LCV priorities passed by the General Assembly includes:

  • The Brighter Tomorrow Act (HB1435/SB0783), which extends and creates tax exemptions for low and moderate income community solar projects and establishes a bridge program to help finance smaller projects on rooftops, parking lots, and benefitting government and non-profit developments.
  • The Whole Watershed Act (HB1165/SB0969), allocates $20 million over five years for targeted watershed restoration projects, prioritizing Environmental Justice communities. 
  • The removal of exemptions for manufacturers from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (HB0990), ensuring that all sectors of Maryland’s economy contribute to meeting the state’s climate goals. 
  • The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plans, or EmPOWER Reform (HB0864), which updates Maryland’s successful EmPOWER energy efficiency program, setting clear greenhouse gas reduction targets and introducing incentives for adopting efficient electric appliances and heating.
  • The Clean Water Justice Act (HB1101/SB0653), which provides certain persons and associations standing in environmental and natural resources protection proceedings.

In addition, a major milestone was achieved when Governor Wes Moore announced a reallocation of $90 million in funding towards critical climate change programs, focusing on reducing emissions from the state’s two largest sources: transportation and buildings. This substantial investment includes $50 million for building electrification initiatives, $23 million for installing Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers at multi-family buildings, prioritizing low-and-moderate income communities, and $17 million for Electric School Buses (ESBs).

“The legislation we championed this Session makes progress towards meeting Maryland’s  diverse environmental needs, considering health and equity impacts that better serve all of our communities,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV. “The 2024 legislative session was a testament to the power of collaboration and grassroots advocacy. Together with our partners, lawmakers, and supporters, we achieved major victories that continue Maryland on a path towards a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future.”

While celebrating these successes, Maryland LCV also acknowledges the challenges faced during the session. The “Data Center” Bill (HB579/SB474), which initially raised concerns about its potential risks to environmental justice and climate objectives, was amended to include a provision allocating 15% of the annual Corporate Income Tax paid by Data Centers to the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF) program for emission reduction practices starting in 2026. This amendment represents a step towards aligning the bill with environmental goals. “While the Data Center Bill remains problematic, the SEIF amendment is a significant new revenue source for funding our climate goals,” said Kristen Harbeson, Political Director of Maryland LCV. “This is especially critical as we face increasingly tight budget years.”

Moreover, a last-minute state budget amendment  undermines  the implementation of the landmark Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022. The amendment puts conditions on the regulations proposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and required by the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 to establish building energy performance standards. Maryland LCV, along with other environmental advocates, raised serious concerns about the amendment and lack of transparency in the amendment process. The amendment  underscores the ongoing challenges and opposition to  ensuring the full and timely implementation of Maryland’s climate goals. 

Environmental justice remained a central focus this session, with a number of bills and initiatives addressing the disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change on underserved and overburdened communities. The increased visibility of these issues in legislative discussions marked progress in the right direction we are disappointed these key environmental justice bills did not advance.

True environmental justice means community engagement from the start,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of Maryland LCV. “While we’ve seen environmental justice conversations happening more frequently in the legislature, we need to turn these conversations into actions that reduce impacts on overburdened communities.” 

Maryland LCV also emphasizes the importance of collective advocacy in achieving this session’s successes. “Throughout the session, thousands of Marylanders weighed in, submitting comments to their elected officials, joining our educational webinars, and engaging with their communities,” added Kim Coble. “This grassroots support is critical to achieving environmentally strong and just outcomes and is the foundation of our work.”

All legislation that passed by the General Assembly now moves to Governor Moore’s desk for signature. Maryland LCV looks forward to working with the Moore Administration and the General Assembly to build upon these successes and address the challenges faced in the 2024 session. 

About Maryland LCV

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters educates and activates people to take equitable and just political actions for clean water, healthy air and climate-resilient communities.