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Fund climate programs to restore the economy | READER COMMENTARY

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks with the press after touring the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system at the University of Maryland Baltimore-Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie. Mary Beth Tung, Director of the MD Energy Administration, left, and Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the MDE (not pictured), joined the Governor and hospital officials on the tour. The University of Maryland Medical System received MD Energy Administration EmPower Maryland CHP Program grants for co-generation plants at three facilities. UMMS calculates the utility cost savings from the CHP systems at $1.5 million annually. Dec. 17, 2019
Gov. Larry Hogan speaks with the press after touring the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system at the University of Maryland Baltimore-Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie. Mary Beth Tung, Director of the MD Energy Administration, left, and Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the MDE (not pictured), joined the Governor and hospital officials on the tour. The University of Maryland Medical System received MD Energy Administration EmPower Maryland CHP Program grants for co-generation plants at three facilities. UMMS calculates the utility cost savings from the CHP systems at $1.5 million annually. Dec. 17, 2019 (Amy Davis)

Maryland is at an economic fork in the road. Governor Hogan’s recently announced plan to cut the state budget is the wrong path to take (”Coronavirus in Maryland: Five takeaways from the week,” July 10). That path could lead to a balanced budget in the short term but would do long-term damage to the climate and the state’s economy. I strongly urge Maryland state legislators to take another path, one that will lead Maryland toward a climate-neutral, economically strong and healthy future.

Maryland should increase spending to address the climate crisis we find ourselves in. As a start, Maryland could expand its EmPOWER energy efficiency program (”Maryland House OKs extension of energy-efficiency program,” Feb. 28, 2017), which would put Marylanders to work replacing inefficient energy infrastructure while lowering energy bills for Maryland residents. We can also create thousands of good-paying Maryland jobs by planting millions of trees throughout the state. Similarly, by cutting red tape in the permitting process for wind and solar projects, we could bring more than 40 projects online in the next 24 months and create 3,000 jobs.

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Critics will argue that Maryland is a small state and can’t afford to spend taxpayer dollars on the climate. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland has the highest median household income of any state in the nation. Now is the time for Maryland legislators to act courageously and invest in climate solutions. In the process, we will create jobs in clean energy and build an equitable post-coronavirus economy for all Marylanders.

Robert Wald, Silver Spring

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