Maryland Climate Bill Raising State’s Actions Might be Vetoed

Annapolis, Maryland, USA Town skyline at Chesapeake Bay with Chapel Dome

Last week, Maryland lawmakers passed an omnibus climate change bill to set more ambitious goals to cut fossil fuel dependence in the state. The new legislation is now headed for Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, where the Baltimore Sun categorized it as “veto bait” for the Republican governor.

If the bill becomes law, it would raise the emissions cuts by 20%, requiring the state to cut emissions by 60% of 2006 levels by 2031, and hit climate neutrality by 2045. Other elements of the bill include:

  • Tax breaks for community solar projects
  • Fines for owners of large commercial and apartment buildings that don't meet emission cuts
  • Steps to cut out fossil gas
  • Investments in youth conversation work

Why This Matters

Maryland’s proposed climate targets are an example of how governments can bring targets closer to the speed and scale of transformation required to address the climate crisis. Carbon emissions don’t only impact the places they’re released, but locally the bill would have other positive impacts like improved air quality from reducing fossil fuels. Also, Maryland’s Department of the Environment considers the state the fourth most vulnerable to sea level rise in the country.

“Clearly, we can’t get it through Congress,” Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-MD) told the Washington Post, “And that’s a mess. So I think it calls on the states to take action.”

What’s Next

Given that Gov. Hogan put out a public statement calling the climate bill a “reckless and controversial energy tax” before it passed, the package is expected to be vetoed. In anticipation for such an outcome, the Democrat-led General Assembly got the bill to his desk in time for a veto override vote before their session adjourns on April 11.

The legislators leading the charge on the bill emphasized the need for immediate action. As House Environment and Transportation Chairman Kumar P. Barve, Chair of Environment and Transportation Committee, told the Post:

“We’re losing farmland to rising sea level and we’re losing our ski lodges to reduced snow,” Rep. Kumar Barve, Chair of Environment and Transportation Committee, told the Post. “We’re more and more polluting our lungs by having to inhale all this crap. Here’s the thing: We cannot continue to treat the atmosphere of the Earth like the biggest running sewer on the planet, which is what we’re doing right now.”