Do you know where your electricity comes from? That’s always a fascinating question and frequently, a very complicated one. For Maryland, we know a decent amount of what’s available on the grid and most people are pretty shocked when they find out what that entails.
Maryland is still home to seven large coal plants and we’re in the planning and construction process of five more natural gas plants. That’s a lot of fossil fuels. In 2014, those coal plants emitted 36% of the climate pollution from in-state electricity generation. Those gas plants could lock us up in dangerous carbon and methane pollution for another 30+ years, but the harm isn’t just in climate pollution. Our old and dirty fossil fuel plants are responsible for serious public health problems. Due to one of our oldest coal plants being from the Eisenhower era, part of the state is in non-attainment with federal health standards for dangerous sulfur dioxide pollution. Our residents deserve better.
But there is good news. Right now the state has the power to create more clean and renewable energy than ever before. Last year, the Maryland General Assembly overwhelming passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act; a policy that would have increased and accelerated our renewable energy program so that we would receive 25 percent of our energy from sources other than old and dirty fossil fuels. Resources like wind, which is now cost-competitive with traditional energy sources and solar, are one of the biggest drivers of job growth in the region. These are no longer “unproven” renewable energy technologies and the people of Maryland want them.
This October, George Mason University released new data showing just how popular clean energy and climate action are for Marylanders. Over three-quarters of Marylanders say climate change is happening and that they support the government being involved in protecting communities.
Additionally, more than 77 percent of Marylanders said they would support more wind and solar energy while half would be willing to pay more for those advances. Those are numbers our elected officials need to pay attention to.
There is no ways around it – the Clean Energy Jobs Act was a win-win policy for jobs, the climate, and our public health. That’s why it was passed with such a large majority.
But despite all of that support, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill. Citing increased cost that don’t follow recent market trends, Governor Hogan put a stop to accelerated clean energy growth, creating frustration and uncertainty among climate advocates and clean energy industries.
In a state addicted to fossil fuels whose residents support climate action and more clean energy, what can be done? There is still hope. This January the General Assembly will make the annual trek back to Annapolis and vote on countless decisions affecting our state. It is your job to ask them to turn up in support of clean energy and climate action. Our Delegates and Senators need to override the veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. We need the jobs, we need the cleaner air, we need to move away from fossil fuels, and we need our elected officials to respond to the will of the residents.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act isn’t the only thing we need to do in our state to fight climate change; but it’s a critical piece of the puzzle and the opportunity is now. Let’s override the veto and move forward in the clean energy economy together.