Support environment bills in the Maryland Legislature

DTMG supports six environmental bills and we already have some success stories; you will see them highlighted below. The Clean Energy Jobs Bill remains the highest priority.

Scroll down this page for tips on contacting legislators, submitting testimony, and how the legislative process works.

Clean Energy Jobs (CEJA) (HB1158 and SB0516) – CEJA will increase Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires utilities to buy a certain percentage of electricity each year from renewable sources. The current RPS target of 25% by 2020 will be increased to 50% by 2030, increasing the percentage of renewable energy that must come from solar and wind, and and will require the Legislature to develop a path to 100% clean energy by 2040. CEJA also includes a significant increase in the requirement for solar energy produced in Maryland from the 2.5% currently required by 2020 to 14.5% by 2030. See a supporting Baltimore Sun editorial here.

Status:

The Senate Finance Committee issued a favorable report on this bill March 15. The House Economic Matters Committee held a hearing March 8. Please contact your Senator and urge them to support this bill when it comes to the floor. And contact your Delegates, too, especially if they are members of the of the Economic Matters Committee.

Read DTMG testimony here.

Talking Points:

  • CEJA will transform Maryland’s economy into a clean energy economy.
  • CEJA will position Maryland as a clean energy industry leader, making it attractive for businesses to invest in Maryland’s workers and its future.
  • CEJA will attract substantial investment in solar and wind energy jobs and job training.
  • CEJA includes substantial investment in solar and wind energy jobs and job training.  Funds from the Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund are earmarked for training programs in installing solar panels and wind turbines and set asides for women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses in the clean energy field.
  • CEJA will result in 20,000 new well paying jobs in clean energy technology.
  • More than 500 faith, community, labor, business, climate and environmental groups from across Maryland have endorsed the CEJA.

Water Quality Certifications (Pipeline and Water Protection Act of 2019) (HB0669 and SB0387) – This bill will protect water quality in Maryland by requiring the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to conduct a water quality review and certification before issuing permits for natural gas pipelines in Maryland. 

Status:

The House Bill was assigned to two committees: Economic Matters and Environment and Transportation. The Economic Matters Committee held a hearing March 7 and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing February 19. Neither committee has issued a recommendation. Be sure to contact your delegates and senator on these committees.

Talking Points:

  • Maryland banned fracking in 2016, but construction of fracked gas pipelines through Maryland has continued. Construction of fracked gas pipelines may negatively affect rivers, streams and groundwater, and pipeline leaks and spills during operation can contaminate drinking water,  pollute the air, and contribute to global warming. 
  • In the past, MDE has waived its authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to conduct a water quality review for fracked gas pipelines such as the Western Panhandle Pipeline under the Potomac River at Hancock, MD, threatening the drinking water for more than 6 million people downstream. 
  • This bill will close the loophole that allows MDE to skip water quality reviews, will ensure transparency of the review, and will promote public input into the state’s review of proposed fracked gas pipelines.

Public Utilities – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Tier 1 Sources (HB0961 and SB0548) AKA “No Cash for Trash” –This bill will remove taxpayer incentives for burning trash to make electricity in Maryland.  Trash would no longer be included in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and incinerators that burn trash would no longer receive Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

Status:

The House Economic Matters Committee and the Senate Finance Committee both held hearings in March; neither has made a recommendation. Please contact your Senator and Delegates, especially if they are members of these committees. Scroll down for tips on how to call or write.

Read DTMG testimony here.

Talking Points:

  • Maryland’s RPS and RECs should be used for clean renewable energy production. Maryland is the only state in America that includes burning trash in Tier 1 renewable energy.  This bill will ensure that RECs support truly clean energy and incentivize investment in solar, wind, and other clean sources of renewable energy in Maryland.
  • Trash is certainly renewable, but burning trash is bad for our health and the environment because it is twice as dirty as burning coal. Trash incineration releases 90% more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than burning coal, which contributes to climate change. 
  • Burning trash also releases toxins, such as dioxins, furans and mercury, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and PM 2.5 (small particulate matter) into the air.  Mercury harms the brains of children, NOx contributes to ozone pollution, and exposure to PM 2.5 can cause lung damage and increased risk of heart attack.
  • The toxic ash that results from burning trash needs to be spread out in landfills to decrease the concentration of toxins that leach into the soil, so the ash actually takes up more landfill space than disposal of regular trash in landfills.
  • The two incinerators in Maryland that receive RECs for burning trash, the Dickerson incinerator in Montgomery County and the BRESCO incinerator in Baltimore, operated for decades before trash was added to the RPS in 2011, and don’t need the RECs to continue to operate.
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Natural Resources – State and Local Forest Conservation Funds (HB0120 and SB0203) – This bill strengthens the requirement for plans to mitigate deforestation and use of state and local forest conservation funds.

Status: There is some good news here! The full Senate approved the bill with amendments March 11. The House Environment and Transportation Committee held a hearing on their version of the bill February 6 but did not issue a report. The Senate version was sent to them March 12. Please contact you Delegates, especially if they are members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee and ask for their support. We are close to winning this one!

Talking Points:

  • This bill will increase transparency and reporting in the use of forest conservation funds.
  • Our forests are a valuable resource. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.

Almost There!

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Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition (HB0275 and SB0270) – This bill will ban use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos in Maryland.

Status:

Partial success! The House has approved the bill with amendments.

But there’s still work to do. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing February 27 but did not issue a report. Now they will consider the version that passed the House, and we need to encourage them to make, a favorable recommendation to bring it to the Senate floor. Please contact you Senator, especially if they are a member of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Read DTMG testimony here.

Talking points:

  • Chlorpyrifos is a toxic pesticide that kills bees that pollinate crops and can contaminate our food.  It can also contaminate streams and is toxic for fish.
  • Chlorpyrifos also harms brain development in young children.
  • Chlorpyrifos has been banned from indoor residential use for years.
  • EPA studies found that there is no safe level of chlorpyrifos and recommended that its use be banned.
  • The Trump administration is fighting the ban, so the state must enact the ban to protect all Maryland residents.
  • Read DTMG Testimony Here.

**DTMG Success Story:

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Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products – Prohibition (HB109, SB0285) – DTMG joined with our friends at the Sierra Club to support this bill to ban disposable single-use food containers made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), aka styrofoam, beginning in 2020.  Plastic pollution is overwhelming our oceans and EPS food containers are a major contributor.

Status:

Success! Both chambers have passed versions of this bill with amendments. You might want to thank your Delegates and Senator.

What You Need To Know To Have An Impact

Understand the Legislative Process – Bills are introduced in pairs with one version (and number) for each chamber. When initially introduced to the House or Senate (first reading) they are assigned to one or more committees. The committees gather information, hold hearings, and make a recommendation (favorable, favorable with amendment(s), or unfavorable) before they are presented for a “floor” vote by the entire chamber.

Each of these Environment Bills was referred to two or three of the following committees:

Take Action: Please call or write your senator or delegates, and if they are on one of these committees, be extra sure to contact them. You might also contact a committee chair, even if you are not in their district. If you can add something about why these bills are important to you, please do so. But remember, even a brief phone call is far superior to NO phone call!

FIND YOUR DELEGATES AND SENATOR HERE.

Here is a script you might want to use. It’s a phone script, but you can tailor it for emails by taking out the support questions and simply asking the Delegate/Senator for their support.

Hi, My name is _____________.  I am a member of DoTheMostGood MoCo and a constituent of (Delegate/Senator _______ ).  I live at ______________________.

I would like the Delegate/Senator to support HB0000/SB0000, [name of bill] addresses [intent or 1 sentence summary of the bill]

This bill is important to me because [your personal statement]

Will Delegate/Senator ___________ support this bill? [Yes/No/Undecided response.]

  • [Yes response]: Please thank Delegate/Senator __________ for [his][her] support.
  • [No response]: Please letDelegate/Senator __________ know that I support this bill.
  • [Undecided response]: I hopeDelegate/Senator __________ will seriously consider this bill and give it [his][her]support.

Thank you for your time.


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