Environmentalists, Business Allies Critical but Hopeful of State’s Efforts to Achieve Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Environment Maryland

Baltimore—Environmentalists and business representatives gathered today to release an analysis of the state’s progress to date in reducing climate change emissions.  The move comes about a month before Maryland agencies release an initial draft of a new greenhouse gas reduction plan.

“The state is falling behind, but we can still make it to the finish line in time.  We need to redouble our efforts, and we need renewed leadership from the governor, legislators, and state agencies.  They were bold to set us on this path towards a clean energy economy.  Now let’s make sure we get there,” said Tommy Landers, Campaign Director for Environment Maryland.

The event took place in Fells Point at a spot flooded in 2003 by Hurricane Isabel which sent a 6- to 8-feet storm surge up the Chesapeake Bay.  Climate change, caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions, threatens to bring more extreme weather events to Maryland. It also is expected to accelerate sea level rise, exacerbate water quality problems, and endanger public health.

“With tragically severe weather events becoming more and more the norm across the country and sea levels rising along Maryland’s 3,000 miles of tidal shore, we must do our part to reduce global warming emissions now,” said Tom Carlson, Maryland Campaign Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

To address the threats of global warming, the Maryland General Assembly in 2009 passed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA), which requires state-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2020.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change, created by Gov. O’Malley by executive order, had already written an initial Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2008 to achieve the reductions called for by the GGRA.

The analysis released today, Too Little, But Not Too Late written by Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center, critiques the state’s progress in implementing the CAP and achieving the required reductions.  Environmentalists are pushing state agencies to make the new plan strong and detailed enough to ensure the reductions are achieved in time.

“The report needs to be thorough.  Each policy must have a timeline for implementation, a responsible agency in charge, and an enforcement mechanism.  Upon this plan’s release, agencies should be ready to hit the ground running to implement each of these policies quickly and effectively,” said Alana Wase, Conservation Program Coordinator of the Maryland Sierra Club.

Too Little, But Not Too Late focuses on the top ten emissions-reducing programs in the 2008 plan, such as the state’s clean energy standard, energy efficiency programs, transportation technologies, and recycling.  According to the report, only one program is “on track.”  Five have shown “mixed results.”  In one area the state has made “minimal effort,” and it’s made “no progress” in the other three.

Representatives from two Maryland businesses joined the environmentalists on Tuesday to add their voice to the call for more action.  Reducing global warming emissions entails a number of job-creating and business-boosting activities.  In fact, implementation of the CAP was estimated to result in a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $2 billion.

“My company, TerraLogos Energy Group, and others have demonstrated that residential energy use can be cost-effectively reduced by 20-40%.  TerraLogos alone has saved property owners over $4 million in energy costs, reduced energy use by almost 60 megawatts, and prevented over 11,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  And it’s not just residential property owners that are investing in this sector.  It’s private industry too.  But we’ve only just begun.  Now, Maryland must send clear signals to these homeowners and businesses that we support their investment in our clean energy future,” said Peter Van Buren, President of TerraLogos Energy Group, a Baltimore based energy improvement contractor.  Van Buren is also chair of the MD-DC chapter of Efficiency First, the national trade organization for the Home Performance Industry.

“Maryland is missing an excellent opportunity by being soft and indecisive on recycling. Instead of condoning an expensive and polluting technology like waste incineration that costs hundreds of millions of dollars and will even hinder our efforts to avoid waste, we should be aggressively promoting recycling, reuse and composting, all of which also cost much less.  These waste avoidance practices do it all.  They divert significant materials from the waste stream, create many more jobs, save much more energy, reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, and treat our discard stream as a mine for valued resources,” said Ford Schumann, Director of Infinity Recycling.