February 22, 2021
Contact: Dannielle Lipinski, 443-617-7257
Maryland Voters Strongly Support Major Action by General Assembly To Address Climate Change and Improve Public Transportation
New Poll Shows Strong Backing for Increased Use of Renewable Energy, Tree Planting and Expanded Public Transportation Options
Annapolis, MD – As wide-ranging climate and transportation legislation moves through the 2021 Maryland General Assembly, a poll from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) shows that Maryland voters strongly support doing more to comprehensively address climate change and improve transportation and transit options.
The new polling, which was commissioned by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, was released today as the Climate Solutions Now Coalition brings together hundreds of climate-action supporters for an online rally to urge legislative approval of comprehensive climate and transportation legislation this year. The lead sponsors of major climate action legislation will speak at the 5 p.m. rally, along with national climate-action leader Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.
The poll found that voters strongly support a wide array of strategies to address climate change. Among the findings, the poll showed:
- 76 percent said they are worried about global warming.
- 69 percent believe a comprehensive bill to address climate change should be a priority for the state.
- 72 percent support requiring electric utilities in Maryland to generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, like wind and solar, by the year 2030.
- Depending on the policy approximately ¾ of voters polled support the state requiring a wide array of climate policies from various greenhouse gas contributing sectors.
- 96 percent say it is very important for the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) to ensure Marylanders, including essential workers, can get to work safely and on time.
- 83 percent support adding new bus routes and train lines to reach communities that don’t currently have access to public transportation.
- More than 85 percent consider it very or somewhat important that the MTA ensures low-income communities and communities of color have increased access to public transportation.
The poll also found strong support for requiring oil and gas companies in the state to pay some of the costs related to adapting to climate change, including investments in transportation infrastructure and sea level rise (76%). Click here for a memo summarizing the poll’s findings.
Major legislation pending in the General Assembly, the Climate Solutions Now Act, would move Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction mandate to net neutral by 2045, as recommended by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, and plant 5 million trees by 2030.
“The Climate Solutions Now Act will help rebuild Maryland’s economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing Maryland’s overburdened communities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “The poll confirms that voters believe we need to act now to address the climate crisis. And that includes investments in transit, which reduce greenhouse emissions and produce twice as many jobs as similar investments in roads.”
“We need to move with the urgency that conditions require,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, lead Senate sponsor of the climate bill. “Maryland has a great opportunity to set a more aggressive pathway to address climate change. Now is the time to act.”
“Climate change is the challenge of our time — threatening public health, public safety and the environment,” said Del. Dana Stein, the House sponsor of the climate bill. “The Climate Solutions Now Act responds to this challenge by requiring Maryland to get to net zero emissions by 2045 and implementing several measures to help us get to net zero.”
One key finding in the poll was that voters strongly support (86%) planting millions of trees to help improve water quality and remove carbon pollution from the air – a strategy called for in the Climate Solutions Now bill.
“Trees naturally filter water and air as well as sequester carbon,” said Doug Myers, Senior Maryland Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “These qualities fight climate change, but trees have so many other benefits, including providing habitat to animals, increasing property values by beautifying communities, and preventing heat islands in urban areas where temperatures rise significantly higher in areas without trees than those with them. The tree planting goal in this bill will bring these benefits to neighborhoods throughout Maryland as well as help the state meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.”
A key piece of legislation, the Transit Safety and Investment Act, would mandate $123 million annually from the Transportation Trust Fund for the next six years to address the transit repair needs identified by the MTA. This guaranteed funding is essential to ensure that the investment has long-term benefits of economic stability and job growth. The General Assembly is also considering the Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act, which would require that all buses purchased by the Maryland Department of Transportation beginning in 2023 be zero emission, ultimately leading to a complete fleet transition.
“Given that transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, transportation policies and climate policies are tightly connected,” Coble said. “This poll confirms what we consistently hear: Marylanders want the state to be a national leader in addressing the climate crisis and ensuring the transportation infrastructure serves us well and equitably.”
Along with their own support for climate action, Maryland voters also want their elected representatives to support such policies. At least seven in 10 say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for Maryland political office who backs investing state dollars to upgrade the electric grid and expand the production of renewable energy (73%), requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a tax on their carbon pollution (71%), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 (70%).
“Pollution from fossil fuels makes people more likely to die from COVID-19,” Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s Federal and Policy Director Jamie DeMarco. “That’s one reason two thirds of our state wants comprehensive solutions like the Climate Solutions Now Act to be a priority in 2021.”
The poll was conducted by Nexus Polling and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication finds strong support for policies to improve transportation and address climate change in the state. The representative survey of 553 registered Maryland voters was conducted from January 27 to February 4, 2021, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.5%.
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.
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