IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 10, 2023
Contact: Kristen Harbeson, 410.952.8100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Renewable Energy & Transportation Bills Highlight 2023 Legislative Session’s Many Environmental Achievements
Annapolis, MD – The 2023 Maryland Legislative Session, which closed tonight, was marked by a broad array of environmental successes, including bills that will expand renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and advance environmental justice in the state.
“Collectively speaking, the 2023 legislative session environmental achievements are extremely significant for Maryland’s air, land, water, and communities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “Importantly, many of the bills that passed are crucial both to implementation of the Climate Solutions Now Act and to Governor Moore’s pledge to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2035.”
Coble said that Maryland LCV’s priority bills for the session all passed, including several bills that will expand renewable energy in Maryland. Offshore Wind (HB793/SB781) creates the path to accelerating offshore wind in Maryland by establishing a coordinated transmission network, advancing payment mechanisms that limit ratepayer impact and building the resilience and reliability of the grid. Community Solar (HB908/SB613) makes permanent a solar program for households that traditionally were unable to have solar on their own property, allowing them to purchase affordable solar energy, expanding solar energy capacity, and benefiting entire communities.
In addition, two transportation bills that passed, the Advanced Clean Truck Rule (HB230/SB224) and the Transportation Equity Act (HB9/SB19), will be important steps forward both for air quality and environmental equity.
“Transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland,” said Coble. “These bills, along with the General Assembly’s first-time allocation of $3 million to the Maryland Zero-Emission Vehicle School Bus Transition Grant Program, will speed the transition to zero-emission electric vehicles, including school buses, while also protecting community health.”
A number of bills that passed will also advance environmental justice, including Greenspace Equity (HB503/SB923), which will provide annual state funding to support projects that increase and enhance “community greenspace” in underserved and overburdened communities.
Coble also pointed to two land conservation bills that will advance carbon sequestration, reduce flooding, and preserve essential habitat. The Forest Conservation Act (HB723/SB526) sets new, stronger statewide forest cover and tree canopy goals, updating the existing Forest Conservation Act to give counties and local governments the flexibility to design a forest retention strategy that meets their local development priorities while providing stronger protections for priority forests. Maryland the Beautiful (HB631/SB470) sets a conservation goal of 40% of Maryland lands permanently protected by 2040, while providing a plan and new tools to substantially and permanently protect Maryland’s most important lands.
Among the bills that made significant progress but didn’t pass were the Climate & Environmental Equity Act (HB840/SB743) and a bill to improve Maryland’s energy efficiency program. “We look forward to working with advocates, communities, and legislators in the interim to put those issues in a good place for next year,” said Coble.
“In many ways, the 2023 legislative session marked a new day for Maryland, with strong environmental leaders in the offices of Governor, Senate President, and House Speaker and a third of our General Assembly who took the oath of office for the very first time in January,” said Coble. “The environmental achievements of the 2023 legislative session remind us that if we want to achieve meaningful, lasting environmental victories, we need to elect conservation-minded candidates.”
“We are enormously grateful to our legislative leaders who delivered for Maryland’s environment and communities this session and to Governor Moore for meeting his campaign pledges and helping move Maryland toward 100 percent clean energy and truly equitable environmental policies,” added Coble. “We also appreciate the thousands of Maryland LCV supporters who contacted their legislators to urge passage of priority environmental bills, attended our rallies, and knocked on doors in support of strong, equitable environmental policies.”
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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.