Measure to help fight climate change in Maryland progresses | National policy

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A measure to address climate change was advanced in Maryland on Tuesday to bolster the state’s current goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from levels of 2006 to 60% by 2030.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted to send the bill to the full Senate, which is expected to consider the bill later this week.

The legislation takes a variety of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, from increasing the state’s electric vehicle fleet to requiring tall buildings to reduce emissions and helping affected communities to disproportionately by climate change.

The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee made a significant change to the measure last week to no longer require newly constructed buildings to use electricity for heating and hot water, rather than fuel oil and natural gas. The change was made after strong opposition from the construction industry.

Instead, the Maryland Public Service Commission would study the impact of such an electrification process and the investments that would be required, should the state decide to move in this direction later. A separate study by the Building Codes Administration of the Maryland Department of Labor would examine the technical side of moving effectively in this direction.

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The measure also applies to large existing buildings over 25,000 square feet (2,323 square meters) with the aim of reducing their overall emissions by 30% by 2035, although K-12 schools, historic properties and agricultural buildings are exempt. It also includes a goal to achieve net-zero emissions for these buildings by 2040, though the bill contains a December 31, 2029 sunset provision that would require lawmakers to re-approve it to stay within that time frame. .

The bill also comes with about $24 million in mandatory spending, at least in the first few years. This includes $12 million per year in total grants available to school systems to design and build net-zero-emission schools. It also includes $5 million in grants for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to improve energy efficiency. An additional $5 million per year would go to a Catalytic Climate Investment Fund to promote environmental justice and leverage increased capital investments to reduce emissions.

The measure, which was blocked last year in the Maryland General Assembly, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, meaning at least as much carbon is removed from the atmosphere as is issued.

Although the comprehensive measure did not pass last year, lawmakers approved part of the package to plant 5 million trees statewide over 10 years, including many in urban areas. On Tuesday, Senator Paul Pinsky said $10 million had been set aside this year to plant trees. The senator said he had just learned that applications had been received for $14 million.

“So it’s actually oversubscribed, which I think is a very good thing,” Pinsky, a Democrat from Prince George’s County who is the lead sponsor of the Senate measure, told his Senate colleagues. . “I think it’s really good news that people have responded to that, so I think that’s a first step.

Follow all AP stories on pollution and climate change issues on https://apnews.com/hub/climate.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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