Marylanders Ask Elected Officials for Clean Energy

Hundreds of Marylanders rallied in Annapolis, Maryland last week to show their support for the Clean Energy Advancement Act. The National Wildlife Federation and members of the Maryland Climate Coalition joined together with business, health, faith, labor and climate leaders to urge the General Assembly to act in 2015 to expand the state’s goals for clean electricity ahead of a key Senate hearing on the bill. Both the House and Senate committees heard testimony in support of the bill from the broad cross-section of Maryland leaders and energy experts.

Over 150 clean energy supporters gathered in front of the Maryland State House on the evening of the 23rd ahead of the General Assembly session. Photo by JT Stokes

Over 150 clean energy supporters gathered in front of the Maryland State House on the evening of the 23rd ahead of the General Assembly session. Photo by JT Stokes

“Over 230 religious leaders across Maryland, including the bishops of seven Christian denominations, have joined together to speak out for clean energy,” said Rev. Stephen Tillett, of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church. “It’s not right that we still get half of our state’s energy from fossil fuels that pollute the air and make our neighbors sick. Our faith communities are showing that there is a better way.”

The Clean Energy Advancement Act (HB 377/SB 373), recently introduced with 16 Senate and 45 House co-sponsors, would gradually raise Maryland’s existing clean electricity consumption mandate, called the “Renewable Portfolio Standard.” The bill would require that 25 percent of Maryland’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2020 and set a trajectory to reach 40 percent by 2025, doubling the current standard. The policy would also create nearly 1,600 new jobs per year in the state’s solar industry and spur 18,000 new jobs in the regional wind-power economy. According to the Maryland Clean Energy Center, clean energy jobs already generate more than $8.2 billion in associated salaries and wages in Maryland on an annual basis.

The bill comes at a time when Maryland is experiencing the increasingly detrimental effects of relying on fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—for energy, including dangerous air pollution, contaminated water and damaging weather:

  • Last year, 2014, was the hottest year on record worldwide, while recent studies show, Baltimore and Annapolis lead the nation in increased flooding driven by rising sea levels.
  • Eighty-five percent of Maryland residents live in areas that fail to meet the nation’s clean air standards, and Maryland has the 8th worst ground ozone level in the nation.
  • Maryland ranks 5th in the nation in adult asthma and nearly 12 percent of Maryland children have asthma.

Maryland kids for clean energy heading out to show their support for more clean energy on a cold Lawyers’ Mall. Photo by Tiffany Hartung

Executives of Baltimore-based BITHENERGY, Inc., a firm that has developed, financed, and integrated over 33 megawatts of solar projects, underscored that state policy is key to attracting businesses like theirs to Maryland at the hearings and a press conference.

“When we started BITHENERGY a few years ago, we had the option of starting the company in any number of states,” said Robert L. Wallace, the president and CEO of BITHENERGY. “We chose the State of Maryland because of its commitment to expanding clean energy technologies and creating an economic environment that made it attractive to companies like BITHENERGY. The passage of HB 377 would significantly enhance the economic imperatives that are necessary for clean energy companies like BITHENERGY to thrive and to accelerate job formation.”

Take action to double Maryland’s clean energy standard, call your legislators on March 4th and tell them to support more clean energy for Maryland.

 

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