Maryland has proposed history-making legislation that could make the state a leader in climate action
For nearly a decade, Maryland has treaded water in its efforts to address climate change and environmental inequities. The General Assembly passed legislation prioritizing climate action, but the Hogan administration refused to implement these laws, undermining the legislature’s goals and blocking progress.
With Gov. Moore’s recent victory and his pledge to put the state on course to generate 100% clean energy by 2035, Maryland has an opportunity to reclaim its role as a climate leader.
To meet its aggressive climate commitments, Maryland needs to stop investing in the polluting and outdated methane gas system. The Hogan administration encouraged the increased use of gas by subsidizing gas infrastructure expansions and the General Assembly exacerbated the problem by maintaining a costly gas pipeline replacement program that foists costs onto customers. We need to decrease the state’s reliance on methane gas to meet our climate goals, and spending billions of dollars to build out gas systems will only take Maryland backward. It’s critical for Gov. Moore to end all programs that expand gas use.
Now is the time for Maryland to take steps toward an all-electric future that will safeguard our health and protects the climate. The transportation and building sectors make up over half of Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we need Gov. Moore to champion policies that accelerate the switch from gas to healthy all-electric solutions.
The Moore administration should support adopting a statewide all-electric construction code that requires new residential and commercial construction to be fully electric by 2024 and eliminate outdated incentives to connect new properties to the gas system. A recent report by Earthjustice, Rocky Mountain Institute, Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, and Sierra Club shows that Maryland can pursue a path that leaves no household behind as the state goes all-electric and that prioritizing electrifying the homes of low-income Maryland residents will focus resources where they’re most needed.
This year’s legislative session demonstrated a groundswell of support for climate legislation and we applaud Gov. Moore’s support of key bills like the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule. Trucks and other large vehicles account for the lion’s share of transportation pollution in Maryland. The rule requires vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of electric trucks and school buses beginning in 2027, which will significantly cut smog and climate emissions from trucks and provide relief for communities who breathe in toxic diesel from trucks rumbling down nearby highways and transportation corridors.
Finally, Maryland needs strong state agencies filled with people who have the expertise, tools, and authority to shape Maryland’s climate and energy future. The Hogan administration-led agencies acted as barriers to implementing Maryland’s climate policies. Under Hogan, the Public Service Commission, which sets utility rates, maintained incentives for the purchase of gas appliances, and the Maryland Energy Administration subsidized gas infrastructure construction. It is critical for Gov. Moore to appoint people to crucial key agency positions who are committed to Maryland’s clean energy future and empower appointees to do the work necessary for Maryland to achieve its emissions reduction goals.
Just last month, Gov. Moore announced the nomination of an employee of the American Gas Association to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Though the nominee withdrew, it raised questions among advocates and sent the wrong signal about the administration’s climate priorities. Gov. Moore’s recent appointment of Del. Kumar P. Barve was a great step in the right direction, given his lawmaking experience and strong advocacy for clean energy. Now, the Governor must secure the Public Service Commission’s role in advancing Maryland’s climate goals by nominating a true climate advocate to fill the final open seat. Maryland needs climate champions in these important regulatory roles who have both deep knowledge and commitment to implementing Maryland’s climate policies, not people working on behalf of the gas industry.
Meeting these goals will require partnership and collaboration, and Maryland doesn’t need to do this on its own. There are billions of dollars in federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act available to pursue this all-electric future and the Moore Administration should appoint staff to review available federal funding opportunities and coordinate state agency applications to help meet climate goals.
It’s never been more important to act. The latest U.N. report on climate change indicates that the window to avoid catastrophic warming is narrowing, but we have the tools to tackle this mounting crisis right here in Maryland. The Moore administration must act with the urgency this moment demands and deliver the healthy future Maryland deserves.
Susan is a senior attorney with the Clean Energy Program.
Earthjustice’s Clean Energy Program uses the power of the law and the strength of partnership to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy.