by Betsy Johnson |
Bills to like and bills to spike are being introduced in the Assembly.
Its difficult to write about legislation for the newsletter when the legislature is in session because things move rapidly and get out of date very soon. As I write this, many bills are still on the drawing board and have not yet been introduced.
The good news this year is that global warming is on everyones radarand there are many good bills which address this issue. We hope that the combination of increased public awareness and the work of our members, other environmental organizations, and our fellow citizens will encourage wide support for these bills by our legislators.
Our Maryland Chapter website, http://maryland.sierraclub.org, has information about legislative priorities, though it wont give you the most up-to-date information on the status of the bills as they make their way through the legislative process. But you can follow legislation on the Maryland General Assembly website, http://mlis.state.md.us/.
Letting your senator and delegates know of your concern for the environment in Maryland is another way for you to act as a good steward of our land, air, and water. It would be helpful if you would contact your legislators and urge them to pass these good bills, and to reject the one bad bill weve identified so far.
Bills to support
The Clean Cars Act
SB 51/HB 44Senator Brian Frosh/Delegate Liz Bobo
Requires that Marylands new-car dealers sell cars that meet Californias emission standards, including a standard for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. It is likely to pass due to support from leadership in the House and Senate and the Governor himself. The Maryland Sierra Club has designated this bill as its top priority for the session and has been working hard on getting our members in key districts to call their legislators and put pressure on them to vote for the bill. I expect that this will have been voted on by the time you read this.
Renewable Energy Portfolio StandardSolar Energy
SB 595/HB 1016Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Sue Hecht
Requires that a certain percentage of the renewable energy portfolio comes from solar installations in the state. Should this bill pass it will give solar power a real boost in Maryland , putting us on a par with California and New Jersey with respect to solar energy usage.
Global Warming Solutions Bill
SB 409/HB 890Senator Paul Pinsky/Delegate Kumar Barve
Requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and creates an Office of Climate Change within the Department of the Environment.
Local GovernmentStreet Lighting Equipment
SB 423/HB 875Senator Rich Madaleno/Delegate Jane Lawton
Authorizes local governments to purchase street lighting equipment from electric utility companies. Local jurisdictions providing maintenance for street lights are much more likely to use more efficient lights to control their costs.
Solar Energy Grant Fund
SB 186/HB 328Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Ann Marie Doory
Creates a dedicated funding source for the Solar Energy Grant Fund. If renewable energy is too expensive, utilities can pay into a fund rather than comply with the percentage requirements of the Renewable Energy Standard (RPS). Currently, the money goes into a Maryland Renewable Energy Fund, which may or may not be used for solar. Probably very little of it would. With this bill, half of that money would go straight to the Solar Grant Fund.
Electric CompaniesEnergy Efficiency and Conservation Measures and Services
SB 562/HB 631Senator Brian Frosh/Delegate Brian Feldman
Restores energy efficiency programs for residential utility customers. Requires that 1% of electricity sales per year comes from energy efficiency.
MD Energy Efficiency Standards Act of 2007
SB 674/HB 909Senator Paul Pinsky/Delegate Bill Bronrott
Establishes energy-efficiency standards for nine types of electrical products.
Tax GeneralIncome Tax CreditEnergy-Efficient Residential Heating and Cooling Systems
SB 615/HB 595Senator Rich Madeleno/Delegate Jon Cardin
Establishes tax incentives for installing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
Solar Energy Grant Program
SB 187/HB 253Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Nancy King
Increases the amount per grant that can be awarded from the Solar Energy Grant Fund. This bill would increase that limit from 20% of a projects cost to 30%.
Stormwater Management Act of 2007
SB 784/HB 786 Senator Jim Rosapepe /Delegate Jane Lawton
Requires local governments to update zoning ordinances to allow for the implementation of environmental site design techniques in specified stormwater management practices.
Bill to oppose
EnvironmentWater Appropriation PermitsGroundwater Recharge Area
SB 499Senator David Brinkley
Will allow water within state parks and preserved lands to be used to calculate water capacity for growth. It is driven by several requests by developers to withdraw waters from state lands. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) failed to develop a policy satisfactory to the public last year. So now it is being brought by the Senate, in response to applications from Terrapin Run and Wisp, and some Carroll County issues. If it passes, it will change the entire structure of Capacity Management for drinking water and allow developers to use the lands in state parks and forests to calculate recharge areas for withdrawals.
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