New Research: MD Governor Falls Short on Climate Action

Alongside the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, we requested a policy review of Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act: 2019 GGRA Draft Plan released by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) in October. Our review was conducted by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS). 

The review finds that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s draft plan is critically flawed and falls far short of what is needed to address the climate crisis in the state. 

The main findings are:

  • Maryland’s current greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are weak compared to other states and inadequate for meeting critical international benchmarks for averting the climate crisis.
  • Due to overly optimistic assumptions and flawed methodology, MDE’s daft plan is unlikely to result in meeting even these weak emissions reduction targets.
  • The plan is especially flawed when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, due to unrealistic assumptions on widespread electric vehicle adoption, dubious claims that highway widening will result in fewer emissions, and a lack of proposed strategies for reducing car travel demand.
  • MDE does not account for methane leakage in inventories or future scenarios, even as the Hogan Administration is supporting an expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure.
  • Inconsistent calculations for the emissions inventory between 2014 and 2017 call into question the accuracy of MDE’s data.
  • The governor’s study failed to include carbon pricing as a policy option, even though the state’s own prior modeling showed it to be highly effective at reducing emissions.

What this report means for us

The administration’s current emissions reduction commitments do not reflect the scale of the climate crisis and its impacts on Maryland. Without the level of ambition required to  tackle this crisis, we will also miss out on the opportunity to uplift communities through a broader transition. Importantly, by undercutting ambition, the Governor is missing out on taking opportunities for large-scale and transformative solutions in the state.

Maryland needs to make meaningful progress in solving the intersecting crises of clean air, equity, and climate change. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan is proposing climate solutions that do not come close to tackling the crisis according to the current science. This has become very clear in the Center for Climate Strategies’ policy review of Governor Hogan’s draft climate plan. The review found, among other things, serious deficiencies in the economic assumptions the administration is making about climate change. The result is likely to be a set of policies far too modest to solve the climate crisis. This also means he won’t take full advantage of this opportunity to address the underlying causes of Maryland’s poor air quality or take steps to empower communities that have been historically marginalized and systematically underserved by our public services and infrastructure.     

As Maryland begins this coming legislative session, we must make sure to position the impacts on environmental justice and front-line communities at the center of any solution. And as we strive towards a pollution-free environment, we must consider how to reduce the health effects of harmful air pollutants and make this move a just transition.

Article Featured Image: Kevin Galens