Climate change legislation gathers momentum at Maryland General Assembly


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — One of the major pieces of legislation making its way through the General Assembly this session is a sweeping climate change bill. Among supporters at the State House, there is a sense of urgency about getting the bill to Governor Hogan’s desk for his signature.

The stability of Maryland septic systems, water supplies and farmlands are a concern to the General Assembly. The question many have is: just what are the best ways forward?

A state commission on climate change is calling for a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Prince Georges County Senator Paul Pinsky is taking the lead to reach these goals. He chairs the Senate Health & Environment Committee.

“We can’t ignore the issue of climate change; it’s getting worse,” Sen. Pinsky said. “We’ve had the six hottest years on record taking place in the last seven years. Even the number of deniers has gone down.”

Kim Coble with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters is mobilizing the votes in the General Assembly to get the legislation passed. Maryland, she said, is among the states most impacted by harm to the environment.

“We are one of the real vulnerable states when it comes to climate change impacts,” said Coble. “This bill is important for us to pass so we can start addressing these concerns.”

“Enough people see we have a major problem,” said Senator Pinsky, “and we have to do something about it. We can’t talk about it we have to do something and take concrete actions and that’s exactly what the bill does.”

For Coble and the League of Conservation Voters, Maryland can be a national leader in addressing climate concerns.

“Maryland is falling behind quite frankly and there are many other states, local governments corporations that are advancing, taking initiatives that we haven’t yet,” said Coble. “So if Maryland wants to be a leader on climate change and environmental protection, this bill needs to be a top priority for us.”

“We have to have a systemwide conversation about how we make that transition,” said Chairman Pinsky.

The General Assembly, working with the Maryland Department of the Environment, hopes to have a bill to Governor Hogan by next month. The bill also calls for the planting of five million trees in Maryland by the end of the decade, 10 percent of them in underserved areas of the state.

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