Maryland LCV Statement on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan

Maryland LCV Statement on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” Plan

Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters, released the following statement today in response to the “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan announced by President Joe Biden.

“The Build Back Better plan is exactly what Maryland needs to aggressively address challenges to our infrastructure, our climate, and our communities. Our recent polling shows that Marylanders strongly support policies to improve transportation infrastructure and address climate change in the state.

It is important that we recognize that Maryland is already paying a high price for its aging infrastructure, associated pollution, and climate change. Our communities of color are disproportionately burdened by pollution and a lack of investment. If we fail to act, the price to address these challenges will only get higher. President Biden’s plan, coupled with key legislation now making its way through the Maryland General Assembly, will help our communities be healthy and thrive and make needed investments in transportation and clean energy infrastructure in Maryland.”

By |2021-03-31T13:06:46-04:00March 31st, 2021|Categories: Blog, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Maryland Voters Support Action on Climate and Transportation

Maryland Voters Support Action on Climate and Transportation

A recent poll — conducted for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (LCV) 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 January 27-February 4, 2021, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.5%

Voters want the MTA to ensure Marylanders can get to work safely, reduce traffic congestion, reduce pollution, and increase transportation.
Nearly all (96%) Maryland voters say ensuring Marylanders, including essential workers, can get to work safely and on time is an important objective, including more than seven in 10 (72%) who say it is a very important objective. About six in 10 Maryland voters say reducing traffic congestion (61%), reducing the harmful pollution that lowers air quality and contributes to asthma and lung disease (60%), and ensuring low-income communities and communities of color have increased access to public transportation (59%) are very important objectives for MTA. Roughly half say lowering costs for Marylanders (49%) or adding new bus routes and train lines to reach rural communities (48%) are very important objectives as well.

Maryland voters support transit infrastructure spending now.
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Maryland voters say Maryland should increase spending on transit infrastructure now to ensure Maryland residents, including essential workers, can get around the state safely, while also providing emergency relief to families, businesses, and public services. Majorities of Maryland voters also support a variety of transportation investments, including:

  • Investing in repairing and maintaining current transportation infrastructure (86%)
  • Adding new bus routes and train lines to reach communities that don’t currently have access to public transportation (83%)
  • Providing tax credits or rebates to individuals/households that purchase an electric vehicle (70%)
  • Adding bike lanes to existing roads and bridges (70%)
  • Investing state tax dollars in installing electric vehicle charging stations in rural, urban, suburban areas (68%)
  • Establishing zero-emission zones in cities (52%)

Maryland voters also support a wide array of climate policies, including:

  • Planting 4.5 million new trees over the next nine years to help remove carbon pollution from the air (86%)
  • 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%)
  • Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a fee on their carbon pollution (74%)
  • Requiring new constructed buildings with at least 20,000 square feet to install rooftop solar panels (74%)
  • Requiring utility companies in Maryland to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (72%)
  • Replacing state-owned gas- and diesel-powered vehicles with electric or hybrid vehicles (67%)
  • Requiring newly constructed homes and buildings to be emissions-free (66%)

Coronavirus response, infrastructure funding and climate action are seen as top priorities for Maryland this year.
More than eight in 10 Maryland voters say passing economic stimulus legislation (83%) and public health legislation (81%) in response to the coronavirus pandemic are important priorities for the Maryland state government this year, including more than six in 10 (61% and 61%, respectively) who say they should be top priorities. Transportation infrastructure is also seen as a high priority by voters in the state: About eight in 10 also say investing more in transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges (83%) and passing an infrastructure spending bill to update and modernize Maryland’s infrastructure (78%) should be priorities. Roughly seven in 10 see addressing racism (73%) and passing a comprehensive bill to address climate change (69%) as important priorities for the state this year. And 72% of respondents said they support requiring utility companies in Maryland to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Not only do Maryland voters support climate policies, but they want their elected representatives to support them as well.
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%).

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By |2021-02-22T09:37:32-05:00February 22nd, 2021|Categories: Blog, Climate Change, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV on Maryland not participating in the first round of states for the Transportation and Climate Initiative program

Statement from Kim Coble, executive director of Maryland LCV on Maryland not participating in the first round of states for the Transportation and Climate Initiative program

“With the climate crisis accelerating, fueled by emissions from transportation, we are disappointed that Governor Hogan has not served as a leader on regional efforts to reduce emissions and formally committed to the Transportation & Climate Initiative.

We will continue working with the Hogan administration to ensure Maryland fully commits to this important program as soon as possible. The state needs to get on board quickly, because all Marylanders, and especially our communities of color, deserve clean air and an equitable and clean transportation sector that increases access to social and economic opportunities and reduces the negative health effects caused by air pollution.”

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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.

By |2020-12-21T12:31:21-05:00December 21st, 2020|Categories: Climate Change, DEIJ, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Md. LCV Chief: As State Faces COVID Challenges, Don’t Leave Transit Needs Behind

Originally posted on Maryland Matters on October 28, 2020

By Kim Coble, Executive Director of Maryland LCV

Maryland Matters recently speculated that, with vehicular traffic down across the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it’s time to put the brakes on the Hogan administration’s massive highway expansion projects [“COVID-19 Decreased Air Pollution in the State, Study Shows,” Oct. 22]. We agree. It’s time to get out of that gasoline-powered car altogether and jump on the train of public transit and electrification and other zero-emission methods.

In Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 2020 Environmental Scorecard, we criticized  the General Assembly for failing to pass any major transportation legislation, taking a step backward at exactly the moment when we should have been boldly advancing.

Leadership in both the House and the Senate have begun talking openly about their priorities for the 2021 session in the face of the two national public health emergencies of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We applaud the measures both presiding officers are taking to address these important challenges. We urge them to recognize that public transportation must be central to any proposal, and we are eager to offer solutions that will meet the state’s transportation needs while minimizing the air pollution that particularly plagues our communities of color.

Now, while our state leaders are tackling racial injustice and the systems that keep too many people of color in poverty, is the perfect time to improve our public transit system. The problems are proven:

  • 2015 study out of Harvard identified long commute times for workers in one’s neighborhood as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.
  • In Baltimore City, where many students rely on public transportation to get to school, our public transit system has the highest number of breakdowns in the country, according to federal data.
  • Diesel fumes from buses around the state contribute to a disproportionately high number of respiratory illnesses in our children of color who are most likely to rely on school buses. While electric buses have a higher initial cost, the long-term savings of maintenance and gas makes them more cost-effective purchases.

In a nutshell, students can’t benefit from world-class education if they are too sick to go to school or if they can’t reliably get there. Affordable health care does not help those who don’t have a way to get to their doctors without costly emergency services.

A large and diverse coalition of community advocates are rallying to push the General Assembly to pass several bills that will help address the inequities and other impacts of a neglected transit system.

The Transit Safety Investment Act will ensure that the Maryland Transit Administration has sufficient funds to adequately maintain the current fleet of buses, trains, subways and stations – allowing safe and reliable transportation for roughly 6 million riders each month including those our health care workers and the people in our state who do not own their own cars to reach their health care providers.

The Electric Bus Transition Act would ensure that by 2035 all the buses maintained by the state are zero-emission buses, reducing the diesel pollution that most impacts communities of color and low-income populations in our state.

Another bill, School Bus Purchasing – Zero Emission Vehicle – Requirement, long championed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, would do the same for school buses to help combat the epidemic levels of asthma in Latinx children around the state.

The Transportation Funding Act creates the state fund to implement the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state compact to reduce transportation pollution throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

The General Assembly should also consider a new bill that expands “complete streets” policies that this General Assembly has already supported. The bill would allow projects that improve bike, pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure to be funded by red light and traffic camera revenues, which would make these systems safer and more accessible to all Marylanders.

Each of these proposals helps support our statewide goals of reducing the carbon emissions from our transportation sector and preserving the air pollution reductions that have been a result of COVID-driven stay-at-home orders. Each of these proposals also supports the growth of good, family-supporting union jobs at nearly double the rate of the same amount of money spent on highway expansion. That sounds like a win-win solution for all Marylanders who are struggling to emerge from quarantine.

Marylanders deserve investments in infrastructure that improves our health and the health of our communities. We deserve access to good jobs and good health care. And we deserve the safe, clean and reliable transportation system — including bike and pedestrian infrastructure — that allows us to truly be one Maryland, connected to each other and all that are important to us.

We look forward to working with the Maryland General Assembly to make all of this possible.

By |2020-10-28T13:02:31-04:00October 28th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Climate Change, Press|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Where you’ll find the lobbyists in Annapolis

By Kristen Harbeson, resident Lobbyist and Political Director

I love tracking my steps during session – wondering how many miles I logged in a day.  Although there are days when my feet ache from all the walking, there is at least as much sitting as there is walking: sitting in committee rooms (and occasionally on the floor outside of committee rooms); sitting around tables during coalition meetings and while talking to legislators; sitting in the public lounges for emergency conversations with colleagues.

One of the most likely places you’ll find me during much of the Session is in a wingback chair in the hallway on the second floor of the House Office Building.  From there, I can talk to Delegates and their staff pass by on their way to and from the Environment and Transportation and Economic Matters Committees.  I’m not the only one who tends to find herself there – it’s a spot where lobbyists from every kind of advocacy group will find a place to take a call, charge their phones, or catch a few minutes on their laptops between meetings.

These kinds of relaxed locations are where conversations happen that build community, and sometimes provide news in bits and pieces that, when taken together, can help provide context to help shape a legislative strategy.

Ramon Palencia-Calvo, our Deputy Director testifies for one of our priority pieces of legislation.

Ramon Palencia-Calvo, our Deputy Director testifies for one of our priority pieces of legislation.

This week there was a hearing on our first priority bill.  Ramon testified on the importance of fully funding the Maryland Transit Authority, which has a $2 billion shortfall over the next ten years according to a study released last summer. The MTA serves every jurisdiction in the state, but low-income and already disadvantaged communities suffer the most from failures due to inadequate maintenance. Additionally, a strong, affordable, and accessible public transportation system is essential to reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas pollution. (Did you know that the transportation sector – especially highway traffic – represents more than 40% of our greenhouse gasses?!) This is always an important moment in a campaign.  It’s the first time that arguments for and against are presented side by side, and examined by the committees who make the decision of what happens next. It’s a little bit like a play, and a little bit like a polite boxing match.

In this case, the hearing was in front of the House Appropriations Committee which works with the State Budget.  Ramon, and all of our partners provided strong testimony after the bill was presented by Delegate Lierman.  The Department of Transportation spoke against the bill, which isn’t uncommon, especially for bills that require the Governor to spend money in a specific way. Next week, the same bill will be heard in the Senate, and then we work on the next step: A vote from subcommittee.

Sitting or standing, or running through the halls, you can count on your Maryland LCV staff working hard next week to pass strong environmental laws.  Next week we’ll have some marathon bill hearings, too, so stay tuned!