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How Governor O’Malley Plans To Ensure Maryland Meets Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

By Matt Kasper, Guest Contributor

"How Governor O’Malley Plans To Ensure Maryland Meets Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets"

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In 2009, Maryland set the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, and today, Governor Martin O’Malley announced a comprehensive plan that could actually allow the state to meet it. O’Malley, who has been governor since 2006, made the announcement at a climate change summit at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum, Maryland in front of business leaders, scientists, and environmental and renewable energy advocates.

In 2009, O’Malley signed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009. The law requires Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from a 2006 baseline by 2020. This plan will have to be voted on in 2015, meaning state lawmakers will have to decide if the state should continue with O’Malley’s plan or have a new plan developed.

It would be wise to move forward with this plan. Without faster progress, the state will reduce its carbon emissions by only 17 percent in 2020. But O’Malley can build on previous successes on creating green jobs, protecting the environment, and reducing state emissions. The plan he laid out today is a pragmatic one that will address climate change, reduce air pollution, stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and put Maryland on the right path to reduce 25 percent of its emissions by 2020.

“We are here today because climate disruption is real and it is not an ideological issue any more than gravity is,” said O’Malley. “It is physics, pure and simple, but our response to it is complex.”

The plan encompasses more than 150 programs and initiatives to achieve a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 25 percent by 2020, or a decrease of 55 MMtCO2e (million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). A few of the main strategies and programs that will contribute significant amounts of reductions are:

  • Accelerating and increasing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Maryland’s current standard requires the state to consume 20 percent renewable energy by 2022, but O’Malley’s plan will change the standard to require 25 percent renewable energy consumption by 2020. The plan also removes black liquor as a Tier 1 renewable technology – a pulping product that is burned.
  • Enhancing the EmPOWER program. This law is designed to reduce per capita electricity consumption and peak demand by Maryland consumers by 15 percent by 2015. Maryland is on track to exceed its 15 percent peak demand reduction goal, but the per capita energy goal is falling short. O’Malley’s plan will improve utility and non-utility programs to address the per capita goal.
  • Managing forests to capture carbon. By 2020, the O’Malley administration has set a goal to achieve the afforestation and/or reforestation of over 43,000 acres.
  • Continuing to develop a strategy to eliminate 85 percent of Maryland’s solid waste, or garbage, by 2030. Residential and commercial waste releases greenhouse gases during processing or when buried in a landfill. Recycling and waste diversion goals, as well as utilizing waste-to-energy facilities, are highlighted in O’Malley’s plan.

For the past six years, O’Malley has been a national leader when it comes to not only talking about climate change, but acting to fight climate change. The plan he laid out today will tremendously benefit Marylanders, and hopefully spur other states join together to protect future generations.

Matt Kasper is the Special Assistant for Energy policy at the Center for American Progress. Special thanks to Patrick Maloney for his contribution to this blog.

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8 Responses to How Governor O’Malley Plans To Ensure Maryland Meets Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

  1. Gingerbaker says:

    Of the major highlighted points, not one of them involves building and deploying new renewable energy infrastructure.

    You know, if you were to build that infrastructure – which we can all agree we need to do – then the net result is that you are not putting CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Which means you don’t really HAVE to do any of the things highlighted in this story.

    -> We need to build renewable energy infrastructure.

    Does it matter where the dollars to build that infrastructure come from? A dollar is a dollar, whether it comes out of your pocket, out of your city budget, or from your state budget, or from our National coffers. It is just that as we move away from your pocket, and travel toward that National coffer, the burden of solving our national energy crisis is distributed much more equitably. And more and more of it falls to a governmental entity, that unlike a state like Maryland, can carry a huge deficit and can even print its own money.

    Does it matter where that new renewable energy infrastructure is actually built? Does Maryland’s renewable energy have to be generated in Maryland? I would argue it does NOT, that it makes more sense to generate renewable energy at the exact physical location where the generation is optimal.

    That means solar power should be generated in the American Southwest. Wind energy might best be located far off-shore where the winds are nearly constant.

    This article shows that even the most forward-thinking and aggressive state STILL has no real plan to build our needed new energy infrastructure. It demonstrates what seems more and more clear to me – that our renewable energy future is most properly the responsibility of the Federal government and not left to the free market.

    We need a new Federal renewable energy utility.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Any regime that seriously attempted to substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels wouldn’t last long. The money power would lean on them, the ‘courts’ would be utilised in a ‘lawfare’ campaign to intimidate them back to the ‘mainstream’ and the MSM would run unrelenting negative propaganda campaigns against them. All those promises of lucrative ‘business opportunities’ and ‘consultancies’ that so entice politicians in capitalist pathocracies would evaporate. So long as capitalism rules, and the greatest source of wealth and power under capitalism is represented by fossil fuel assets valued at tens of trillions, there will be no ‘de-carbonisation’.

  2. It always comes down to the cost of infrastructure, does it not? How much would that infrastructure cost, who is going to pay for it and how might it be managed to prevent the public coffers from being ripped off for private profit. We can’t allow a continued rape of the commons in the name of doing good things.

    That is also the problem with the entire idea of adaptation… it would require hugely expensive infrastructure with no way to pay for it. Even now, we feel the pinch of increasing energy costs and you can bet the fossil fuel companies will use that to keep turning out as much as they can.

    • Gingerbaker says:

      “How much would that infrastructure cost, who is going to pay for it and how might it be managed to prevent the public coffers from being ripped off for private profit.”

      It will cost some trillions of dollars, which is why only the Federal government can afford do shoulder it. But another way to look at it, is that such a titanic cost is merely what we all would have been spending anyway for fossil fuels over the next five or so years. Except that, instead of handing our money over to the Exxon-Mobils of the world, at least we are buying something that will benefit us for many decades.

      And we all should pay for it, as we all will benefit – once again the Fed is the most equitable way to share this burden.

      “… the problem with the entire idea of adaptation… it would require hugely expensive infrastructure with no way to pay for it.”

      Joe Romm, here, has presented the best available data that adaptation will cost the world $1240 trillion by year 2100. Building a national Renewable Energy utility system would cost only a tiny fraction of that.

  3. BobbyL says:

    Maryland is one of the nine members of the northeast Regional Green Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap and trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. If the member states decide to lower the cap significantly I would think that would help achieve the goal of 25% reduction.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    O’Malley says state has ‘moral imperative’ to avert climate change
    Maryland has not been meeting goal to cut greenhouse gases

    Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-omalley-climate-change-20130725,0,5569506.story#ixzz2a6ELE8sC