January 12, 2022
MARYLAND LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS UNVEILS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 2022 MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
Environmental Group to Focus on Bills Advancing Climate Solutions, Electric School Buses, and Community Solar
Annapolis, MD – On the first day of the 2022 Maryland General Assembly Legislative session, Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) announced its legislative priorities, with a specific focus on a comprehensive climate package, advancing electric school buses, and community solar.
“We are laser focused on two of the biggest challenges addressing our state: the climate crisis and the disproportionate impacts of pollution on Maryland’s underrepresented communities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble.
Maryland LCV’s top priority is the passage of strong, comprehensive climate legislation that involves bold goals and a commitment to concrete actions, with a particular focus on underserved and impacted communities. Although specific legislation is still being developed, Coble said she and partners were heartened by the commitment of leaders in both the House and Senate to advance ambitious climate legislation.
“The final legislation must update the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act goal for statewide emissions to 60% by 2030 and most importantly achieve net zero emissions by 2045, with meaningful input from impacted environmental justice communities,” said Coble. “The climate legislation must also focus on transportation, which is the leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland. Lastly, the second largest source of emissions, buildings, must be addressed by creating a buildings-emissions standard for large buildings that prioritize electrification.”
The School Bus Electrification Pilot Program would enable school districts to contract with utility companies for the purchase of electric school buses, similar to a program already initiated in Montgomery County and a statewide program in Virginia. In 2021, the bill passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.
“Diesel school buses emit dangerous pollutants that kids breathe into their developing lungs, causing respiratory illnesses and aggravating asthma,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Maryland LCV deputy executive director and director of Chispa Maryland. “Our elected officials need to prioritize the health of Maryland’s youth and communities, and support the transition of the state’s school bus fleet to clean, zero-emission electric school buses.”
Maryland LCV’s third priority will be to advance community solar projects through the Low-to-Moderate Income Community Solar Tax Credit. The bill exempts projects from county or municipal personal property tax for community solar projects installed on rooftops, parking lots, or brownfields, with a particular focus on projects serving low-to-moderate income (“LMI”) households. The tax credit was a provision in the failed 2021 Climate Solutions Now Act.
“The community solar pilot program has the potential to reduce the energy burden of thousands of low- to moderate- income Maryland households while generating solar power on the rooftops and parking canopies of our cities and towns,” said Maryland LCV’s board chair, Lynn Heller. “Currently, it is not financially viable to develop smaller rooftop and parking canopy community solar projects without grants or low-cost financing. We need to both remove financial disincentives and provide financial incentives to encourage the development of these types of projects that provide discounted clean energy to LMI households, create local jobs, and mitigate carbon emissions.”
Maryland LCV’s Coble added that the organization will pursue its entire agenda with diverse coalitions across the state, made up of other environmental advocates; social justice, community, and faith leaders; and business and labor groups.
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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.