MDE Unveils Broad Strokes of New Climate Change Plan

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) unveiled a broad outline of its pending plan to address climate change and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated in the state.

Maryland’s First Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal: 25 by 20

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 (HB 315 / SB 278) required MDE to develop a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) Plan that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the State by 25% from their 2006 levels by 2020. The legislation also required that any GHG reduction proposals in the GGRA Plan have a net economic benefit for Maryland.

MDE developed its first GRRA plan in consultation with affected stakeholder groups. The majority of GHG reductions under the first GRRA plan came from energy (49%), transportation (22%), and agriculture and forestry (12%). Currently, MDE estimates that Maryland is on track to meet its 25 by 20 goal.

Maryland’s New Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal: 40 by 30

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 (SB 323) created a new GHG emission reduction goal of 40% from 2006 levels by 2030. MDE must create a new GGRA plan that: 

  • Achieves a 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030
  • Is developed in recognition of the need for an 80% to 95% emissions reduction by 2050
  • Produces a net economic benefit to the state’s economy and a net increase in jobs in the state
  • Considers impacts of low-income, low-to-mid income, minority, and rural communities; any other particular class of ratepayers; the agricultural sector; and the manufacturing sector.
  • Does not decrease the likelihood of reliable and affordable electrical service and statewide fuel supplies

Policy Scenarios Considered for the New Draft GGRA Plan

MDE unveiled an overview of its new GGRA Plan at the June 20th meeting of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change. MDE stated that it created and compared four policy scenarios and a reference scenario when deciding what policies would best meet the new 40 by 30 requirements.

The Reference Scenario is a “business-as-usual” baseline that includes no new reduction efforts. Under the reference scenario, Maryland would not meet the 40 by 30 goal.  The other four policy scenarios would all meet the 40 by 30 goal.

Policy Scenario 1 would extend current reduction programs such as EmPOWER Maryland and include a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal. However, this scenario would not achieve much in the way of further reductions past 2030.

Policy Scenario 2 would take all options from the other policy scenarios and would require extensive new programs and funding. This scenario could achieve an 80% reduction by 2050

Policy Scenario 3 would be based on programmatic changes recommended by the Commission, including carbon pricing, complementary policies, and a 50% RPS goal.

Policy Scenario 4 was ultimately what MDE selected for the new GGRA plan. This scenario would draw upon measures from the prior scenarios that were determined to be cost effective by state agencies. This scenario includes the basics of the new Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES) recently announced by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. One of the key goals of CARES is to get to 100% clean electricity by 2040 through a combination of renewables, hydropower, and nuclear energy.

MDE stated that Policy Scenario 4 best balanced economics and emissions benefits for 2030.

What’s in Policy Scenario 4?

MDE highlighted several broad areas of focus and major programs in Policy Scenario 4 that will form the basis of the new GGRA plan. This include:

Electricity Supply

  • CARES
  • Continued geographic expansion of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Transportation

  • Numerous Investments by the Maryland Department of Transportation
  • Clean Cars/Zero Emission Vehicles mandate
  • 50% Zero Emission Vehicle transit buses
  • Compact development
  • Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) could fund and enable other measures

Carbon Sequestration

  • Enhanced forest management
  • Enhanced Healthy Soils incentives

Building Energy Use

  • Extend EmPOWER Maryland
  • Heat pump incentives
  • Compact development

Other

  • Address Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Next Steps

MDE will publicly release a full draft of the GGRA plan soon. The plan is currently undergoing interagency review before release for public comment. The plan will be big, with an estimated length of 400-600 pages.

MACo plans to offer comments on the new GGRA plan once it is opened for public comment.

Useful Links

MDE Presentation on 2019 GGRA Draft Plan Overview

Summary of June 20 Maryland Commission on Climate Change Meeting (by MACo representative Mark Belton)

Maryland Commission on Climate Change Webpage

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