The Environment - Overview
As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize and respect the interdependence of all existence. We are called to seek solutions to environmental degradation in affirmation of our Seventh Principle. Most are now aware of the severe consequences of the Earth’s warming climate. This not only threatens to disrupt key ecological processes, but will exacerbate worldwide inequality as its impacts disproportionately affect marginalized groups in vulnerable regions.
Unitarian Universalists have always made key contributions to nationwide grassroots environmental efforts. Now more than ever, we are called to lead as UUs and citizens to transform Maryland’s energy industry and protect our health and environment. The 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly brings renewed opportunities for Maryland citizens to speak out on climate change and renewable energy.
>Clean Energy is an environmental issue. With its over 3.000 miles of tidal shoreline, Maryland is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise.
>Clean Energy is a health issue. In Baltimore City, the number of children afflicted with asthma is twice the national average. Dirty energy contributes to air pollution and harms the health of Marylanders—especially those most vulnerable such as the elderly, children, and low-income communities.
>Clean Energy is an economic issue. Maryland is poised to stimulate a statewide resurgence of manufacturing and construction jobs. Between 2015 and 2016 the solar industry grew 20 times faster than the state’s overall economy. Raising the RPS to 50% by 2030 could support and retain nearly 20,000 jobs in the solar industry. The wind industry is also beginning to thrive in Maryland.
>Clean Energy is a social justice issue. Low-income people and people of color are disproportionately harmed by increased health costs with 68% of African Americans and nearly two in five Latinos living within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.
More clean, renewable electricity to power our homes and businesses will benefit our health, our economy, our climate, and our communities and place us on a pathway to achieve 100% renewable energy in Maryland.
Clean Energy Jobs Initiative—2018
As a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, a coalition of environmental, faith, business, public health leaders, scientists, social justice advocates, and labor groups, UULM-MD has joined with these organizations to call for legislation in 2018 that will double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policy to 50% renewable electricity by 2030. This bill will also focus on stopping all subsidies to waste-to-energy incineration under the state’s RPS policy. In addition, seeking funding opportunities to invest in job training will benefit economically distressed regions of the state and remove barriers for entry in the clean energy economy.
As Maryland’s renewable energy industry grows, we need to foster a more diverse workforce and to ensure that we are not increasing economic inequality. We will partner with government agencies, labor groups and clean energy stakeholders to examine the best funding opportunities to invest in job training, capital and loans to help minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses enter and grow within the renewable energy industry.
In 2004, Maryland adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that electricity suppliers buy a share of their power from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. In 2009, Maryland enacted the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGERA), one of the strongest plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the US. Originally, the clean renewable goal for electricity was 7.5% by 2019. That goal has since been raised several times and was increased to 25% by 2020 with the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, SB323/HB610.
The 2016 Session of the Maryland General Assembly passed the Clean Energy Jobs-Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Revision (SB921/HB1106), a bill that supported increasing the RPS to 25% by 2020.
The Clean Energy Jobs Campaign builds on these past successes. As Maryland has increased its commitment to renewable electricity, we’ve seen that the new electricity generation that has come online is truly clean energy like wind and solar. Maryland’s solar industry now boasts over 165 companies and employs over 5,000 residents. A typical wind farm creates about 1,079 jobs over the lifetime of the project.
New clean energy development and removing waste-to-energy incineration from the RPS would decrease carbon emissions and reduce healthcare costs. More investments in clean energy and less dependence on fossil fuel and trash combustion would significantly improve the lives for all communities, especially low income residents and communities of color. Increasing Maryland’s RPS to 50% would be the carbon equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road each year.
Please join us in asking the Maryland General Assembly to prioritize the health and safety of Maryland’s residents and the environment and pass the Clean Energy Jobs Initiative.
To Learn More and to Take Action:
- Join UULM-MD at http://www.uulmmd.org in order to stay current on the progress of legislation and to receive action alerts as they are needed.
- UULM-MD Website: http://www.uulmmd.org/index.php/issues/climate-change
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/uulmmd, www.twitter.com/uulmmd.
- Unitarian Universalist Association Action of Immediate Witness, June, 2015: Support a Strong, Compassionate Global Climate Agreement in 2015: Act for a Livable Climate.
- Unitarian Universalist Association 2006 Statement of Conscience on Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change: www.uua.org/socialjustice/socialjustice/statements/8061.shtml
- Maryland Climate Coalition: http://marylandclimatecoalition.org/
Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative: https://www.cleanenergyjobs.org/
UULM-MD is a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition. With the Coalition, we have two priority clean energy bills during the 2016 Session of the Maryland General Assembly: the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act--Reauthorization (SB323/HB610) and the Clean Energy Jobs--Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Revisions (SB921/HB1106).
In 2015, UULM-MD supported the Protect Our Health and Communities Act (SB409/HB449), which extended the moratorium on fracking in Maryland to 2017. We also supported the Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015 which was not successful. In the past century, Maryland has experienced rising temperatures, increased precipitation, more severe weather events and a rise in sea levels. These trends are predicted to continue or worsen if climate change progresses unchecked. The largest economic impact for Maryland will be on its coastal infrastructure and development. By the end of this century, 262 miles of Maryland coastline, including parts of Baltimore, Annapolis and Ocean City, will be vulnerable to sea level rise, putting millions of people and billions of dollars at risk.
UULM-MD has supported the 2007 Clean Cars Act, which reduces tailpipe emission levels and strengthens fuel economy standards; the 2006 Healthy Air Act, which regulates emissions levels from power plants; and the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which provided for an offshore wind farm off the Atlantic Coast of Maryland.In 2009, UUs worked tirelessly for the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Act. Passage of this bill established Maryland as a national leader on climate change by setting a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 2006 levels by 2020.