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Maryland Senate passes renewable energy bill; House outcome uncertain

The Maryland Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would dramatically increase the state’s requirements for renewable energy, even as the measure faces uncertain odds in the House of Delegates.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would require 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030.

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The bill passed by the Senate also disqualifies trash incineration from receiving subsidies for renewable energy. That component of the bill targets facilities such as Baltimore’s Wheelabrator incinerator, which is the city’s largest single source of industrial air pollution.

The current goal in Maryland law is 25 percent renewable energy by 2020.

And while the Senate voted 33-13 for the renewable energy bill, the House of Delegates has not moved forward on its version of the bill.

The House Economic Matters Committee took a vote last week to defeat the bill, but fell two votes short. There also were not enough votes to support the bill, so the committee has kept the bill on hold.

Advocates hope the Senate’s move will give the measure momentum that could carry over into the House.

“We are not giving up,” said Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The science demands that advocates for the bill not give up. After the 33-13 vote in the Senate, we ask the speaker [of the House of Delegates] to finally seriously consider the science of climate change and its urgency.”

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and other advocates are planning a news conference Thursday morning to continue to press their case that lawmakers should pass the bill.

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