Senate and House Leaders Join Health and Energy Experts and Advocates to Urge Passage of Climate Solutions Legislation
Measure would accelerate state’s move to clean energy; new polling shows strong public support for action on climate change
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Key legislative leaders joined health and energy experts and environmental advocates at a news conference today to urge the General Assembly to pass critically needed climate change legislation.
The legislature is considering a climate package that would accelerate the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expand the use of clean energy. In a show of united purpose, the leaders on climate issues in both chambers – Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Kumar Barve – committed today to ensure a strong package becomes a reality.
“Now is the time for Maryland to be bold and reflect the urgency that climate change requires,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, lead Senate sponsor of the climate package and chair of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. “Our package will accelerate the state’s move toward a clean-energy future, expand our use of electric vehicles, and take key steps to make buildings far more energy-efficient while moving away from our use of fossil fuels. Climate change’s devastating impacts are already clear, and we can’t wait any longer to move toward a clean-energy future.”
“Climate legislation is a top priority for the General Assembly this year, and leaders in the House and Senate are united in our commitment to pass a strong package,” said Del. Kumar Barve, chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee. “The public supports action on climate, and this is the year to do it. Our package will make Maryland a leader among the states in addressing climate change.”
The legislation’s key components include provisions to:
- Reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
- Require large commercial and residential buildings to reduce their emissions and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
- Expand the state’s electric vehicle fleet.
- Incorporate key elements to address environmental justice.
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee is having a 1 p.m. hearing today on SB 528, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which is sponsored by Senator Pinsky and has 27 co-sponsors. The House of Delegates is considering a package of bills that are closely tied to the Senate bill: HB 708, HB 807, and HB 831.
Key provisions in the legislation are supported by strong majorities of Maryland voters, according to new polling for Maryland League of Conservation Voters. The polling, conducted by OpinionWorks in Annapolis found:
- 77% of respondents agreed that Maryland should take steps to address climate change.
- 76% support a key component of the climate package – requiring existing large commercial buildings in Maryland to make needed improvements by 2040 to reach net-zero emissions.
- 68% support requiring developers of new housing in Maryland to use only electric power for heating, cooling, and appliances by 2024 to reduce carbon emissions.
- 83% said state agencies should take climate into consideration when permitting new industries and projects.
A range of organizations made the case today for strong action on climate.
“The Maryland General Assembly has not passed significant climate legislation since 2019. Maryland voters are watching our leaders in Annapolis urging them to pass legislation that will address the impacts of climate change and act with their constituents’ best interests. 2022 is an election year and it is the year for legislators to pass a comprehensive package and make Maryland a national leader in fighting climate change.” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble.
“We must pass climate solutions this year because Marylanders are already feeling the impacts of our warming planet and desperately want their leaders to act,” said Victoria Venable, Maryland Director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We must make bolder climate commitments and establish a plan to decarbonize our economy. We don’t have time to waste.”
“Climate Solutions means moving to a cleaner, healthier future for all Marylanders. Electric vehicles mean less smog harming our children and families. More efficient buildings will help us save money on utility bills. These policies are a win-win for the people of Maryland, for our health, our wallets, and the climate,” said Josh Tulkin, State Director of Maryland Sierra Club.
“As members of faith communities, we understand that climate justice means environmental justice. We need climate solutions this year because when we hurt our common home, we are hurting our neighbors—especially those in the Black, brown, and low-income communities who are most impacted,” said Robin Lewis, Director for Climate Equity with Interfaith Power & Light (D.C./MD/NoVA). “That’s why congregations across Maryland are standing up for environmental justice by supporting climate solutions. And now we’re calling on our elected officials to follow our lead.”
“As young people, we are anxious about tomorrow’s future if we do not act on climate change today,” said Sophia D’Alonzo, from the MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition. “We call upon our legislators to ensure that our generation, and those to come, have a safe and healthy future.”
“We’re excited about passing a strong, robust climate solution that reduces greenhouse gas emissions AND centers equity through investment in environmental justice communities, youth training, and a just transition for workers,” said Cecilia Plante of the Maryland Legislative Coalition Climate Justice Wing.
“We are confronting a global climate crisis that threatens to destroy coastal communities, our health, and our well-being,” said Maria Brito, a member of CASA. “Here in Maryland, we have the chance to meet this moment with climate solutions that will not only begin to slow the damage by reducing carbon emissions but will also begin to repair the harm to the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and working-class communities that have been harmed by our reliance on fossil fuels. We are calling on legislators today to stand with Environmental Justice communities and pass real climate solutions to transform our communities and give us all a chance to thrive.”
“We strongly support the Climate Solutions Now Act. Climate chaos and human health are intimately related,” said Gwen Dubois M.D., President of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The status quo: air pollution-related heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, injury and death from deadly floods, wildfires, droughts and heat waves will affect everyone but ultimately the lowest-income and minority populations will suffer the most. Say no to this future and yes to Climate Solutions that create a just and equitable future for a healthy population and healthy planet.”
The legislators and advocates spoke today at a press conference sponsored by Maryland Climate Action, a coalition of dozens of organizations committed to climate change legislation.