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Even as the nation and the world struggles against the coronavirus, we continue to see increasingly violent storms, larger and more damaging forest fires, and more frequent flooding. Many of these climate- related threats disproportionately impact communities already burdened by the weight of systemic racism. Our 2021 Environmental Scorecard takes a particularly focused look at how the 2021 Maryland General Assembly addressed the looming climate emergency.

Maryland LCV’s 2021 Environmental Scorecard takes a particularly focused look on the votes individual members took on priority conservation bills. We reviewed the votes of individual legislators, the actions of the Senate and House of Delegates, and the overall performance of the 2021 General Assembly on important matters related to climate bills, specifically transportation and energy policy bills, land and water protection, and environmental justice.

This year, the scorecard assesses the chambers as well as individual actions. The individual members are held accountable for the votes they took on important matters related to climate bills specifically, transportation and energy policy bills, land and water protection, and environmental justice.

We also look at the votes that were not taken, and especially where the two chambers were unable to find compromises that would have advanced important issues. Like all our scorecards, this year’s scorecard continues to reflect the priorities of Maryland LCV and our broad community of environmental advocates.

This scorecard documents both progress and important failures, including the legislature’s inability, once again, to successfully pass comprehensive climate legislation.

As our planet warms, our communities suffer— and especially our Black and Brown communities— while our elected officials fail to advance  meaningful climate policy.

The goals of the scorecard are to provide Marylanders with information to make informed voting decisions so that committed conservationists are elected and to inspire our elected officials to advance legislation that protects our natural resources and our communities. Your voice, passion, dedication, and work has never been more important.

Maryland LCV is honored to continue to be your political voice in the Maryland General Assembly and looks forward to partnering with you to advance our shared conservation values. Find out how your individual legislators scored this year with our Conservation Voter Tool.

While a significant step was taken to advance renewable energy by enacting the net metering bill (HB584/SB625) for the second year in a row, the Maryland  General Assembly failed to recognize and act with urgency to comprehensively address the climate crisis.

House Senate General Assembly
Climate Solutions Now Act Passed  Passed Failed in conference
Net Metering  Passed  Passed  Passed
Concrete Procurement  Passed No Vote Failed in Senate
PSC Climate/ Labor  Passed  Passed  Passed
Coal Transition Withdrawn No Vote Failed in House
Climate Solutions Now Act (HB414/SB583)

This omnibus legislation, a top priority of Maryland LCV and the environmental community, sought to address climate pollution on an economy-wide scale. It set an ambitious statewide carbon emissions reduction goal and offered a series of policies and practices to help achieve that goal equitably and responsibly.

While both chambers passed versions of the legislation, policy disagreements prevented the bill from reaching the Governor’s desk. It was a critical failure for Maryland.

Public Utilities – Net Metering (HB584/SB625)

Public Utilities – Net Metering (HB584/SB625)

This bill doubled the capacity of consumer-produced renewable energy to contribute to the electric grid, allowing for greater development of residential and community solar projects throughout the state. The bill successfully passed both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

State Procurement – Concrete – Preference (HB1244)

This bill would have given preference in state contracts to companies that incorporate less carbon-intensive materials into their concrete manufacturing process.

Cement contributes 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The legislation passed the House, but failed to receive a vote in the Senate. The provisions were also amended in the House in the Climate Solutions Now Act, becoming an additional casualty of that bill’s collapse.

Utility Regulations – Consideration of Climate and Labor (HB298/SB83)

This legislation directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to consider climate change in its regulation of the electricity sector and requires energy companies to disclose the worker benefits to be offered in their energy projects under consideration. The bill passed both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.ly passed both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

Maryland Coal Community Transition Act of 2021 (HB66/SB148)

This bill provided a date for the closure of the remaining coal-fired power plants in Maryland and created a worker and community transition fund to ensure salary and benefit protections for workers currently engaged in the fossil fuel industry. Facing insurmountable opposition from within the Economic Matters House committee, the bill was withdrawn by the sponsor. The persistent failure of this bill to advance reflects the General Assembly’s worrisome unwillingness to address one of the single largest contributors to our state’s emissions as well as the health of the surrounding communities.

Addressing climate impacts from the transportation sector represents the high mark of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2021 environmental actions including bipartisan support for a bill that provides the funding to ensure a reliable transit system throughout the state.

House Senate General Assembly
Transit Safety and Investment Act  Passed  Passed Passed
Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act  Passed  Passed  Passed
Electric School Buses- Pilot Study  Passed No Vote Failed in the Senate
Transit Safety and Investment Act (HB114/SB199)

This legislation was a top priority of Maryland LCV and the environmental community. It mandates sufficient spending to address the nearly $2 billion shortfall in capital needs of the current fleet of Maryland Transit Administration buses, trains, light rail, subway, and associated infrastructure. Amendments to the bill supported small businesses harmed by the construction of the Purple Line and funded a study for a Western Maryland MARC rail extension. The bill passed with a significant bipartisan supermajority, but was vetoed by Governor Hogan. We urge the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto in the December 2021 special session.

Zero Emission Bus Transition (HB334/SB 137)

This legislation was a top priority of Maryland LCV and the environmental community. It mandated that as Maryland Transit Administration retires polluting diesel buses, it replaces them with zero-emission buses. The provisions of the bill were included in the failed Climate Solutions Now Act and moved forward with bipartisan support as a stand- alone bill in the last days of the 2021 Session. It was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

Public Utilities – Electric School Bus Pilot Program (HB832)

This legislation was a top priority of Maryland LCV. It would have created a pilot program to allow 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. The bill passed in the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.

Regrettably, the Maryland General Assembly’s actions on environmental justice fell short of the bold steps needed to lessen the disproportionate burden of climate impacts on low-wealth communities, especially those who work and live near waste-to-energy incinerators.

House Senate General Assembly
Waste to Energy Incineration N/A Failed to Pass Floor Amendment Failed in Senate
Value My Vote  Passed  Passed Passed
CEJSC Reform  Passed  Passed  Passed
Mail-in Voting  Passed  Passed  Passed
Amendment to Remove Subsidies for Waste-to-Energy Incineration (SB65)

Both trash incineration and the burning of waste from paper production (known as “black liquor”) are forms of dirty energy and should not be considered as Tier 1 fuels of the Renewable Portfolio Standard and comparable to clean energy sources, such as wind and solar. While the bill to remove black liquor passed both chambers, the Senate had an opportunity by amendment to remove trash incineration as a subsidized renewable energy source. The same amendment has been voted on by nearly the same body on other occasions, and widely supported by both parties, but this time most Senate Democrats joined some Republicans in rejecting this important environmental justice and public health measure. The amendment was not available for House vote, resulting in a score of “N/A.”

Election Law – Correctional Facilities – Voter Registration and Voting (Value My Vote) SB0224/ HB0222

Strong environmental policy relies on a healthy democracy and engagement by all eligible voters. This bipartisan legislation required the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to work in partnership with the State Board of Elections to ensure that eligible, incarcerated voters have access to voting and voting information. The bill passed both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

Election Law – Voting – Permanent Absentee Ballot List, Ballot Drop Boxes, and Reports (HB1048/SB683)

This bill aimed to modernize the mail-in voting process, putting infrastructure and processes in place to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised during the receipt, verification, and tallying of mail-in votes. Both chambers passed the bill and it was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature. The bill incorporated provisions from a different bill (HB1047: Mail In Voting Enhancement Act) that had been tracked by Maryland LCV.

Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities (CEJSC) – Reform (HB1207/SB674)

This legislation was a top priority of Maryland LCV. The amended bill reformed the membership and mandate of the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to be more representative of and responsive to impacted communities, taking a small step towards larger, more comprehensive environmental reforms that must be made by the State. The bill passed nearly unanimously in both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

LAND AND WATER PROTECTION

Maryland lawmakers recognized that environmental planning and stormwater management must address the higher intensity storms communities are  experiencing, and passed appropriate legislation. While initial votes in the House regarding forest mitigation banks would have resulted in more Maryland forests being lost, fortunately, in the end, an amended and slightly improved bill passed.

House Senate General Assembly
Stormwater Management   Passed   Passed   Passed
Forest Mitigation Banks Bad Vote Passed  Passed   Passed Amended Version
Comprehensive Conservation Finance Act No Vote  Passed  Failed in House
Plastic Bags  Passed  Passed Failed in Senate
Stormwater Management Regulations and Watershed Implementation Plans – Review and Update (HB295/SB227)

This bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to update its guidance documentation surrounding stormwater management and watershed implementation plans to reflect the higher-intensity storms and increasing nutrient and sediment loads associated with climate change. The bill passed both chambers and was allowed to go into law without the Governor’s signature.

Natural Resources – Forest Mitigation Banks – Qualified Preservation (HB991)

The bill as introduced and passed by a wide majority in the House of Delegates reversed an Attorney General’s opinion that clarified parameters for county use of forest mitigation banks. The bill was heavily prioritized by developers and would have led to increased forest loss. Efforts to improve the bill by amendment were rejected by the House, which passed it by an overwhelming majority. Although the Senate amended and improved the legislation and added a tree planting provision rescued from the failing Climate Solutions Now Act, it is deeply problematic that even reliable environmental leaders in the House of Delegates rejected reasonable amendments to support strong forest conservation. The amended and improved bill passed both chambers.

Comprehensive Conservation Finance Act (SB737)

This bill proposed a comprehensive and more effective mechanism to engage the private investment market to achieve positive environmental outcomes in Maryland. The bill passed the Senate but failed to receive a vote in the House of Delegates.

Plastic Bag Reduction Act (HB314/SB223)

This bill duplicated a 2020 effort to create a statewide ban on the distribution of plastic bags at point-of-sale throughout the State of Maryland, while allowing local jurisdictions and individual retailers the option of whether to charge for paper bags. For the second year in a row, the bill passed the House of Delegates but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.

 

Category Score
Fighting Climate Change: Energy Policy D
Fighting Climate Change: Transportation B
Environmental Justice B
Land & Water Protection C

This scorecard documents both progress and important failures, including the legislature’s inability, once again, to successfully pass comprehensive climate legislation. As our planet warms, our communities—and especially our Black and Brown communities—suffer while our elected officials fail to advance meaningful climate policy.

Tell your legislators that you value Maryland’s air, land, water and people. Urge them to boldly address the climate crisis.