Climate change is happening and we need to protect our people and our natural spaces. This presents a unique opportunity to take advantage of the massive economic potential for growth in green industries while also stopping the further advance of climate change. It is clear that neither the private market nor the federal government will naturally shift themselves to renewable energy before dramatic and irreparable damage has been done to our state. States like Maryland are therefore obligated to embrace a green economy to create good-paying local jobs by helping to save our planet.
The science of climate change is clear: we need to transition toward 100% renewable energy as fast as we can. Twenty five percent by 2020 is a start but we need to extend that to 50% by 2030. Energy prices will not rise fast enough to force the market to make the transition on its own so Maryland must force the pace. Maryland must require utilities to buy larger and larger shares of their energy from renewable producers. To offset price increases for consumers the state should cap energy bills for low income households to make sure that they can afford power. The state government should also aggressively attract renewable producers, including using funds to offset the federal tariff on solar panels. We should also support the expansion of community solar to ensure that low-income families are able to benefit from the cost-savings that come from alternative energy.
Not only must we move to 100% clean energy, Maryland must cut down on greenhouse emissions and pollution in other sectors as well. The poorest 1% of Maryland’s census tracts are home to 16% of Maryland’s worst pollution sites. Pollution hits hardest in our most vulnerable communities but it hardly stops there. Punishments for point-source and runoff pollution should be so onerous that breaking these laws repeatedly will drive a firm out of business. To enforce these laws the Department of the Environment needs a stronger and adequately resourced enforcement arm, one that is able to seriously investigate every facility polluting our waterways and air. To help force the market to transition to cleaner processes I will support a cap-and-trade program that will see the government auction off allowances that can then be traded between companies. The emissions cap will gradually move lower and lower, speeding the shift to a green economy.
The Chesapeake Bay region is a wonderful natural resource that the state needs to protect. Protected areas for the marine wildlife in the Bay should be expanded to eventually encompass most of the Bay, transitioning mass harvesting to farms. Wetlands along our waterways should be aggressively restored by the state in order to help clean our waterways while protecting against rising sea levels.
We as a state ought to embrace the opportunity to curb climate change while positioning ourselves as leaders in the green economy. Green jobs are the energy jobs of the future and we can get those jobs for the people of the 41st District to create upward economic mobility and protect the environment.
Transition to a green economy as soon as possible.
Adopt more aggressive requirements for what share of its energy must be renewable, chiefly a 50% by 2030 requirement.
Cap energy bills for low income households to offset price increases.
Support the expansion of community solar.
Increase enforcement capacity of the Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources along with penalties for polluters.
Institute a cap-and-trade program to gradually cut down on emissions across the entire economy and encourage companies to transition to cleaner industries.
Work to aggressively restore wetlands to clean our water, protect against coastal erosion, limit the effects of floods, and protect native wildlife populations.
Adopt worldwide best practices for development in coastal areas to limit the effects of rising sea levels.
Plan containment areas for flood waters.
Place vulnerable infrastructure in protected areas.
83 Scientific Consensus, Earth’s Climate is Warming, Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet, NASA, 2018.
84 Vaughan, Adam, “Time to Shine: Solar Power is Fastest-Growing Source of New Energy,” The Guardian, October 2017.
85 Morris, Adele C., Equity and Efficiency in Cap-and-Trade: Effectively Managing the Emissions Allowance Supply, Policy Brief 09-05. Washington, D.C.: The Energy Security Initiative at The Brookings Foundation, October 2009, p. 1-3.
86 Bartlet, Al, and Ronnie Poklemba, 100% Clean Energy by 2025, Oakland, CA: The Sierra Club. January 16, 2018.
87 Skulnik, Gary. Guest Commentary: Here’s How Maryland Can Support Solar, Maryland Matters. January 7, 2018.
88 Bernhardt, Courtney, David Flores, Evan Isaacson, Sylvia Lam, and Rena Steinzor, Toxic Runoff From Maryland Industry: Inadequate Stormwater Discharge Protections Threaten Marylanders’ Health and the Environment. Environmental Integrity Project and The Center for Progressive Reform, November 2017, p. 9.
89 Ibid, p. 3.
90 Morris, Adele C., Equity and Efficiency in Cap-and-Trade: Effectively Managing the Emissions Allowance Supply, Policy Brief 09-05. Washington, D.C.: The Energy Security Initiative at The Brookings Foundation, October 2009, p. 1.
91 Brander, Luke, and Kirsten Schuyt, The Economic Value of the World’s Wetlands, Washington, D.C.: World Wildlife Fund. January 2004, p. 4.