ANNAPOLIS — On Thursday, a group of 25 prominent advocacy and community organizations delivered a letter to Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Environment calling for a drastic improvement to the state’s draft climate plan. The groups expressed that the Maryland Dept. of the Environment (MDE) is “failing to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.”

The letter states:

“Unfortunately, the plan fails to put us on track to meet mid-century targets identified by the world’s leading climate scientists as necessary to avoid the worst of climate disruption, and provides no clear policy specifics on how to achieve goals. As an example, the proposed ‘Clean and Renewable Energy Standard’ (CARES) is very thin on details, has been developed with minimal public input, and continues to rely on the burning of fossil fuels which are neither clean nor renewable.”

“The current plan does not fully incorporate the inherent public health costs of ‘business as usual’ fossil fuel infrastructure and needs to go further in order to fully address the climate crisis,” said Ricarra Jones of 1199 SEIU on behalf of the Maryland Climate Coalition. “Maryland needs a just transition to a clean energy economy that includes Marylanders from all corners of the state. That’s why the Maryland Climate Coalition is submitting this letter to the Hogan administration urging stronger action.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 — which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan — requires MDE to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 2006 levels by 2030, and for MDE to develop this plan by the end of 2018. In October of 2019, Gov. Hogan’s Department of Environment finally released its draft plan — nearly ten months after it was due. This came two weeks after 26 advocacy organizations sent a letter to the agency expressing “deep concern” that they had not yet released its legally mandated plan.

The letter follows a recent policy review which found that Gov. Hogan’s draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan is critically flawed and falls far short of what is needed to address the climate crisis.

That review, authored by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), found that Maryland’s current greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are weak compared to other states and inadequate for meeting critical international benchmarks for averting the climate crisis. CCS has extensive experience previously working on climate policy with the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), the same agency now responsible for the Hogan Administration’s flawed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

The CCS report found that the MDE plan uses “unrealistic assumptions on widespread electric vehicle adoption, dubious claims that highway widening will result in fewer emissions” and “MDE does not account for methane leakage in inventories or future scenarios, even as the Hogan Administration is supporting an expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure.”

In the letter released Thursday, the coalition of advocacy groups called for a stronger plan that “looks at the entirety of the greenhouse gas problems our state is experiencing from every major source—not just energy usage.”

“We must address energy production, transportation, agriculture, and housing as well as reduction strategies such as forestation and sequestration,” they added.

The letter was signed by the following groups: 1199SEIU; 350.org; Central Maryland Transportation Alliance; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility; Climate Law & Policy Project; Climate XChange; DoTheMostGood Montgomery County; EcoLatinos, Inc.; Environment Maryland; Frack-Free Frostburg; Greenbelt Climate Action Network; Howard County Climate Action; Indivisible Howard County; Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; Interfaith Power and Light (DC.MD.NoVA); League of Women Voters of Maryland; Maryland Legislative Coalition; Maryland League of Conservation Voters; Sierra Club; Sunrise Movement Howard County; Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee; Towson Unitarian Universalist Church Green Sanctuary Committee; Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland; and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.

MDE is now soliciting public comment on its draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan through a series of community forums across the state.

The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environmental, faith, health, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland. For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit: http://marylandclimatecoalition.org.

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