Annapolis, Maryland – Important legislation was introduced today in the Maryland General Assembly to help move Maryland to a future of clean, renewable energy. The legislation, introduced in the House of Delegates by Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher with 26 co-sponsors, would end the state’s current practice of providing financial support to combustion-based energy sources which spew greenhouse gases and other damaging pollutants into the environment. The same legislation was introduced on Monday of this week in the State Senate by Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.
Maryland’s renewable energy program, known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”), is successfully stimulating the state’s increasing reliance on clean energy sources, like wind and solar. However, the RPS also incentivizes several smokestack-based energy sources, including burning waste from paper mills (called black liquor), biomass, and trash. These dirty sources contribute to global warming and release harmful pollutants such as lead, arsenic, and mercury into the atmosphere. Delegate Waldstreicher’s and Senator Nathan-Pulliam’s legislation would remove these dirty sources from the RPS, reserving the program’s incentives for clean, renewable sources.
“As both a father and a policymaker, I believe that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. To leave a cleaner planet for my children and the children of Maryland, we need our RPS to reflect our values,” said Delegate Waldstreicher. “Under the bill, our RPS can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. I look forward to a vigorous discussion with my colleagues about how to best chart our State’s course to a future of 100% clean energy.”
Senator Nathan-Pulliam added that “the lesson of Flint, Michigan is that protecting the health of our State’s citizens must be our highest priority. We must no longer allow the Renewable Portfolio Standard to support energy sources that emit lead and other dangerous elements into the air our citizens breathe.”
“The Renewable Portfolio Standard is one of Maryland’s most important environmental programs, and has resulted in substantial growth in the wind and solar industries,” said Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Sierra Club. “Now is the time to fully dedicate the RPS to truly clean, renewable energy and close the loophole that incentivizes polluting energy sources. The Sierra Club is excited to work with Delegate Waldstreicher and Senator Nathan-Pulliam to clean up our state’s renewable energy program, and also is helping to lead a separate legislative effort to increase our renewable energy targets and provide support for clean energy jobs.”
“Under this legislation, Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard no longer would incentivize energy sources that emit harmful air pollutants into communities, such as projects that convert poultry litter into electricity,” said Mitch Jones, Senior Policy Advocate at Food & Water Watch. “These projects do not solve the poultry litter problems that come with concentrating too many animals in one place, including choking the Chesapeake Bay with excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous from animal waste.”
“Maryland deserves healthy renewable energy,” said Dr. Alfred Bartlett, Senior Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics and co-lead of the Climate Health Action Team for Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Currently, Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard provides financial support for combustible energy sources that produce more greenhouse gas than coal for the amount of energy generated, and contaminate our air with with toxic products including lead, mercury, arsenic, formaldehyde, and dioxin.”
“Maryland needs renewable energy to be smokestack-free clean energy, like wind and solar, said Mike Ewall, Executive Director of Energy Justice Network. "Maryland ratepayers should not be required to pay extra for energy sources such as the burning of trash, trees, poultry waste, and toxic landfill gases, which contribute to asthma and cancer.”
The Senate bill will have a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on March 8, and the House bill will be heard in the House Economic Matters Committee either later this month or in March.
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher – (410) 841-3130, [email protected]
Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam – (410) 841-3612, [email protected]
Josh Tulkin, Maryland Sierra Club – (301) 277-7111, [email protected]
Sandra Lupien, Food & Water Watch – (510) 681-3171, [email protected]
Tim Whitehouse, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility – (240) 246-4492, [email protected]
Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network – (215) 436-9511, [email protected]