Press release from Maryland League of Conservation Voters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  April 11, 2022

Contact: Kristen Harbison, 410.952.8100 Emailkharbeson@mdlcv.org                                                                                                     

“Best in Nation” Climate Bill Highlights 2022 Legislative Session’s Many Environmental Achievements 

Annapolis, MD – After struggling for several years to reach consensus on a comprehensive bill to address climate change in Maryland, the 2022 Legislative Session closed tonight with passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act. The momentous bill commits the state to net-zero climate emissions by 2045 and requires a 60 percent carbon reduction goal by 2031, the strongest near-term goal in the country.

The Climate Solutions Now Act passed the General Assembly on March 31 and became law when Gov. Hogan chose not to veto the bill.

“The Climate Solutions Now Act is a huge step toward a brighter future for our public health, budgets, and communities,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “It is major news that Maryland is leading the fight against climate change. We are enormously grateful the Maryland General Assembly had the courage and vision to vote for a healthy future for Marylanders, and that the Governor chose not to stand in the way of progress.”

The Climate Solutions Now Act also incorporated many provisions that traditionally would have been included in stand-alone bills.

The Act requires emissions reductions from large buildings and creates a 15-month study to determine steps needed to electrify new buildings.

The bill also includes an electric school bus pilot program in which utilities partner with school boards to purchase electric buses and use them for electricity grid storage. It creates the first in the nation mandate that school buses purchased after 2024 be zero-emission and requires all state passenger and light-duty vehicles to be zero-emission by 2031 and 2036 respectively.

Coble also celebrated environmental justice advancements in the bill.

It codifies the definition of “overburdened” and “underserved” to ensure equitable treatment of communities and sets goals for state clean energy investments in overburdened communities. And it will make the benefits of solar energy more accessible to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households by exempting solar on rooftops, parking garages, and brownfields from property taxes if it provides more than 50% of the energy to these households.

“Along with our community partners, we are still pushing Maryland to create a comprehensive policy framework to achieve environmental justice in the state, based on community-driven solutions,” said Coble. “Although the state still falls short of that paradigm shift, the 2022 legislative session delivered significant equity advances to communities that are disproportionately harmed by  environmental and public health problems.”

Several bills supported by the environmental community did not pass, including the FUTURE Act, which would have mandated a transition to zero-emissions for Maryland’s State University System, and the Clean Truck Rule, which would have signed Maryland onto the Advanced Clean Truck Rule to drive electrification of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. A grant program for medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles within the Clean Cars Act (HB1039), however, does take positive steps in this area.

“On the whole, the successes of the 2022 legislative session provide a valuable reminder that to achieve meaningful, lasting environmental victories, we need to elect conservation-minded candidates,” said Coble. “We are enormously grateful to our legislative leaders who delivered for Maryland’s environment and communities this session. It’s crucial that Maryland’s next governor builds on the victories of this legislative session to advance the state towards 100 percent clean energy and truly equitable environmental policies.”

 # # #