ANNAPOLIS — A bill that sets new and ambitious goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland received strong bipartisan support when it was introduced to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, sets a new goal of cutting those emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030. It also upholds the current requirement that Maryland reduce those emissions by 25 percent from 2006 levels by 2020.
Accumulation of these gases — which include carbon dioxide and methane — in the atmosphere has created a “greenhouse effect” that captures radiation and contributes to global warming, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate that all of the warmest 16 years ever recorded have occurred in the 21st century.
That dual focus on environment and business has enabled the bill to garner bipartisan support, including from Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles, who attended the hearing.
“This bill reflects a remarkable compromise, common ground, collaborative work,” said Grumbles, appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.
Pinsky noted that, if left unchecked, rising sea lives caused by global warming could damage the state’s farming and tourism industries. Destinations close to sea level like Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, he said, also could be in danger of being submerged.
In his briefing to the committee, Pinsky said Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009, which set the state’s original goal for reducing emissions, was a foundation for President Obama to negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement last year.
“We propelled other states and governors with having high standards and high education rates,” Pinsky said, “and I believe it gave the president confidence to go to these international meetings … because there was momentum building because of states like our own.”
The international climate agreement was forged among nearly 200 countries, requiring that nations work to ensure global temperatures stay no more than 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times and that the level of greenhouse gas emissions can be naturally offset by trees and the ocean sometime between 2050 and 2100.
No one at the hearing voiced opposition to the bill.