A crowd of environment advocates gathered for their annual summit in Annapolis.
A crowd of environment advocates gathered for their annual summit in Annapolis. (Pamela Wood / The Baltimore Sun)

A boisterous crowd of more than 300 activists packed the annual Environmental Summit Thursday in Annapolis, where they prepared to fight for environmental measures before the General Assembly.

Top legislative leaders promised the activists that they would override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a bill that requires a greater portion of electricity sold in Maryland to come from renewable sources such as wind power and solar power. Overriding the veto is one of the top priorities of the coalition of environmental groups that holds the summit annually near the beginning of the legislative session.


Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller predicted the vote in his chamber will be 33-14, with every single Democrat voting for the override.

The Senate had planned to hold the veto override on Thursday morning, but it was put off for a week following a request for delay by Republicans.

Miller said the small increased cost on electric bills is "the rent we pay to live here on planet Earth."

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his chamber would override the veto as well. Delegates are scheduled to take their override vote on Tuesday.

Busch encouraged activists to stay on top of environmental issues not only in Annapolis, but also in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump has made several moves that have upset environmentalists, including clamping down on communications from key agencies and nominating Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt previously joined a federal lawsuit that attempted to block the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort.

"We need to stay ever vigilant," Busch said.

In addition to Busch and Miller, a stream of lawmakers from both political parties trickled in and out of the two-hour session. Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles also attended part of the event.

People who attended the summit also learned about other top issues identified by the environmental groups, including a proposed statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing — or "fracking" — for natural gas, and a bill that would require all new homes built with septic systems to use top-of-the-line treatment systems. A requirement to install the top systems in new homes was rolled back by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

The spirited crowd gave standing ovations for some speakers, and offered a chorus of boos when Pruitt's name was mentioned.