The Maryland Commission on Climate Change established its 2018 working group goals and discussed how it would handle discussion of controversial policies, such as taxing carbon and addressing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and transportation sectors at its meeting on April 24, 2018.
The Commission was established in 2007 through executive order and later codified in statute in 2015 (SB 258). The Commission’s primary task is to recommend how Maryland can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 (SB 323) requires Maryland to achieve a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from their 2005 levels by 2030. The legislation also includes some economic and job protections as the State works to achieve the reduction goal. Maryland is on track to meet a prior emission reduction goal of 25% by 2025.
The Commission has 26 members including Administration, General Assembly, local government, business, labor, public health, and environmental representatives. Prince George’s County Council Member Deni Taveras is MACo’s representative on the Commission. Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles chairs the Commission. The Commission has four working groups that offer recommendations to the full Commission: (1) Adaptation and Response; (2) Education, Communication and Outreach; (3) Scientific and Technical; and (4) Mitigation. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp is a member of the Mitigation Working Group.
At the April 24 meeting, several Commission members, including Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky, a representative for Maryland Delegate Dana Stein, and Mike Tidwell from the Climate Change Action Network, expressed concerns over how the Commission was approaching the “40 by 30” plan. Pinsky noted that the Commission needed to address the two largest sources of greenhouse gas emission in Maryland – the energy and transportation sectors. Pinsky argued that the Commission needed to have discussions on difficult issues such as considering a tax on carbon, phasing out fossil fuel usage, prioritizing funding for mass transit, and taxing gasoline or vehicle miles traveled. While Grumbles disagreed with Pinsky’s assertion that the Commission’s current approach to the 40 by 30 plan was flawed, Grumbles did agree that all topics raised by Commission members would be discussed in an open and transparent manner. The issues raised by Pinsky will be taken up by the Commission, with input from the various working groups and the Commission’s steering committee.