General Assembly Passes Climate Change Commission Legislation

Legislation (HB 154/SB 258) has passed both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly that would create a Maryland Commission on Climate Change.  The bill essentially created a statutory version of a similar climate change commission created by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley through executive order.  From an April 3 Cumberland Times-News article:

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley expanded an existing climate change commission by executive order in 2014, but the bill would authorize the commission and its duties under state law as a part of the Department of the Environment….State agencies would review existing programs and recommend regulatory or other changes to support greenhouse gas reduction efforts, according to a fiscal and policy note prepared by the Department of Legislative Services.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science would be required to develop sea level rise projections to assist in preparing to deal with higher water levels in the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean caused by global warming. …

While the executive order set a goal of reducing state greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, the bill does not.

While MACo did not take a formal position on the bill, the bill was amended so that MACo could appoint the Commission’s county representative.  Under the original version of the bill, the county representative was appointed by the Senate President.