Natural Resources

Submitted by: Casey Hunter

It’s no secret that Earth’s climate is changing at an alarming rate. We can already see the impacts of climate change, with communities experiencing more frequent and more severe devastation from extreme weather, rising temperatures, and natural disasters. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately burdened by the effects of the global climate crisis and bear the brunt of the environmental degradation and associated public health impacts.

Maryland proved itself to be a national leader in climate policy with the passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which established targets for a 60% reduction in statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045. Our attention must now turn to aligning Maryland’s policies and practices with its climate targets so that these ambitious goals can be reached. 

Based on our Natural Resources positions, LWVMD will advocate for policies during the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session that protect our environment, including 

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Advancing the renewable energy transition,
  • Promoting environmental justice. 

Some Legislation LWVMD is supporting in 2024 includes:

Transportation and Climate Alignment Act of 2024: The transportation sector is Maryland’s largest source of pollution, making reductions in GHG emissions from transportation and decreasing total Vehicle Miles Traveled critical to meeting the State’s ambitious climate goals. When planning future transportation projects, they must align with Maryland’s GHG and VMT reduction goals. This bill would require the Maryland Department of Transportation and regional transportation planning agencies to mitigate increases in GHG emissions and VMT that would result from any new highway expansion project over $10 million. 

EmPOWER Maryland Reform: EmPOWER Maryland, the state’s home energy efficiency program established in 2008, has the goal of reducing electricity consumption and lowering household utility costs. The program aims to improve energy efficiency through measures like weatherization and appliance updates, rebates, and other financial incentives. Critical updates to EmPOWER are needed in 2024 to ensure that the program is working to reduce GHG emissions and deliver meaningful cost savings for low-income households. 

Recovering Impaired Watersheds: Establishing a pilot program to identify and improve a limited number of impaired watersheds in Maryland to improve watershed health. The goal is to quickly remove watersheds from the impaired waterways list.

Clean Water Justice Act: This bill would support environmental justice by giving Maryland citizens standing to sue in state court over violations of certain Maryland environmental laws. Marylanders currently do not have the right to bring action in state court against polluters. 


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