Maryland lawmakers approve bill to slash greenhouse gas emissions
The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval to a bill that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030.
If Gov. Larry Hogan signs it into law, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Reauthorization will be one of the strongest requirements set by a state legislature in the country. Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat, introduced the legislation, and also its predecessor, the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which required the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 — from 2006 levels.
With the state reporting it was on track to meet the target, Pinsky said he wanted to keep the momentum and further challenge Maryland to lead the way on environmental issues.
"Each day, the devastating impacts of climate change become more apparent,” he said. “Today's action places Maryland in the forefront of state action. Hopefully, it will influence Congress to overcome its dysfunction and the climate deniers who stand in the way of strong federal action.”
Pinsky’s timing coincides with a worldwide push to recognize climate change and its human causes. Last year, 195 countries met in Paris and made binding commitments to reduce emissions. Maryland communities are already dealing with the devastation from sea-level rise and coastal inundation. Many island communities have been lost; other waterfront communities, from quaint small towns like Chestertown to large ones like Annapolis and Baltimore, are grappling with how to safeguard property in a time of rising sea levels.
And a recent study indicates the damage may be worse than most of us feared. Scientists reported in the journal Nature this week that the Antarctic ice sheet is less stable than earlier thought and could contribute to a meter of sea level rise by 2100. Combined with ice melting from other places, that could raise global sea levels more than six feet by the end of the century. That’s roughly twice the worst-case scenario anticipated by a United Nation’s panel just three years ago. In less than 500 years, seas could rise by 50 feet.
If that happens, we’ll be talking about more than vanishing islands and floods. We’ll be talking about lost cities.
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