Gov. Wes Moore (D) signs environmental bills into law

Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed legislation on Friday designed to change how millions of homes and trucks are powered in Maryland, with the goal of reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Among other things, private investment will be stimulated to expand offshore wind capacity to 8.5 gigawatts by 2031 – enough to power 3 million homes, according to the governor’s office. Another would require manufacturers to sell an increasing annual percentage of zero-emission trucks and buses starting with the 2027 model year. And a third would provide subsidies to companies that buy electric trucks.

Moore said the legislation — which drew criticism from Republican state lawmakers — will help the state move closer to its goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035, putting Maryland at the forefront of states taking action to address the effects of climate change.

Flanked by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore), Moore said the new laws “speak to a future where the air is cleaner, a future where our energy grid is more robust, a future where power is drawn from nature rather than consistently in conflict with it.”

According to the Offshore Wind Energy Act, the state aims to quadruple the amount of energy produced by offshore wind from approximately 2 gigawatts to 8.5 gigawatts of power.

The bill signing was held at Tradepoint Atlantic, the former home of Bethlehem Steel, which was once the world’s hub of steel production and now hosts dozens of companies, to coincide with an announcement from Orsted. The Denmark-based clean energy company, which specializes in wind turbines, committed to building an on-site staging area for wind energy infrastructure.

The new Clean Truck Act comes on the heels of executive action taken last month to phase out sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and becomes the latest move by Maryland officials to tighten environmental regulations.

Governor Wes Moore calls for phasing out sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035

Maryland is one of 17 states that agreed to follow California’s emissions standards, which federal law allows to be more aggressive than standards put in place by the federal government.

The Democratic supermajority legislature moved the legislation despite pushback from Republicans who argued that Maryland’s economy and infrastructure are not the same as California’s and that the requirements will ultimately affect the state’s residents economically.

The House Republican Caucus released a statement Friday calling the legislation “radical” and an affront to Maryland consumers.

“This bill, along with the passage of the California Car Ban, which the Moore Administration pushed through in March, will further overtax our electric grid here in Maryland and raise costs for consumers,” said House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany). “Maryland is already a net importer of energy each year. We have no idea if our electricity grid will be able to handle these additional demands.”

Moore said the actions being taken are evidence-based and data-driven.

Change is hard, he said, when asked about phasing out gas-powered cars in a meeting with members of The Washington Post editorial board this week. “But my point is that’s why we have to get to work because it’s something I know is possible and I know can be done.”

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