Hogan administration releases delayed plan to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration released a long-awaited plan Oct. 15 to dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decade, relying on solar and nuclear energy as well as increased transit ridership and electric vehicle sales.

Officials say the plan would cut emissions of planet-warming gases 44% below 2006 levels by 2030. State law, which set a 2018 deadline for the plan, established a 40% target for the reductions; the international Paris climate agreement that President Donald Trump abandoned had committed the United States to emissions reductions of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.


State environment Secretary Ben Grumbles called the document an “aggressive, achievable, science-based climate action plan" that officials estimate will translate to $11.54 billion in increased economic output and creation of more than 11,000 jobs in Maryland.

“The Hogan administration is committed to confronting the climate crisis through bold, collaborative, innovative, and bipartisan action," he said.


The plan now will be subject to public comment before being made final. Environmental groups already have criticized it for being inadequate, besides being more than 10 months late.

On Tuesday, they reiterated concerns that it lacks detail for how to drive adoption of electric vehicles or curtail use of fossil fuels.

David Smedick, campaign and policy director for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, said he had been encouraged by a recent op-ed in which Grumbles cheered a youth-led wave of climate activism. The plan released Tuesday made the secretary’s writing ring “hollow,” Smedick said.

“We’re still a little distressed by what is being proposed,” Smedick said. “We really need to step it up.”

Chesapeake Climate Action Network director Mike Tidwell likened the plan to a homework assignment turned in late and incomplete.

“The plan includes insufficient research, inattention to detail, and a failure to follow the assignment," he said. "The tardiness of the plan would seem to call into question the Governor’s seriousness in truly tackling the climate crisis.”

Among the key elements of the plan:

  • Increased investment in solar power, hydropower and new nuclear power;
  • Continued participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which caps power plant emissions across the Northeast, and the launch of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a similar interstate program focused on vehicle emissions;
  • Programs to phase out use of hydrofluorocarbons and reduce methane leaks from the natural gas energy system;
  • Incentives for farmers to maintain “healthy” soils, which better store carbon that otherwise could reach the atmosphere; and,
  • Reducing state government buildings’ energy usage by 10%.