The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA; Senate Bill 309/House Bill 712), championed by Governor O’Malley, is now before our state legislature. This legislation would put Maryland in the forefront of our national efforts to reduce global warming pollution by adopting state-wide, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets of 25% by 2020 and 90% by 2050 below 2006 levels.
While many of our delegates and state senators are supporting this bill, it is also attracting much opposition. The truth is, we have no choice but to reduce our emissions and to change our production and consumption habits. The only choice is how, when and with what positive or negative impacts. We either will be able to develop controlled, affordable and just ways to change over our technologies and grow a green economy and marketplace, or we will slam into shortages, rising prices, increased health problems, and an environment seriously ill. Wisdom tells us we should get on top of this problem. That is what this bill does.
Yet, as mentioned, there is opposition. Your support of this bill is essential. Write to the Governor, your delegates and senators, mayors and county executives. The more support, the more we can offset the opposition. Much of the opposition is coming from the Sparrows Point steel plant . We understand that. This bill seeks to protect those who will be affected by its regulations and requirements. Here are some points that explain how, with the changes this bill recommends, it nonetheless seeks to undertake them with justice and care for everyone affected.
1. A great deal of flexibility is included in the GWSA. It contains a provision to revisit the goals every four years and to modify them as circumstances require. For example, if we do not achieve the new technology that would enable us to get to 90% pollution reduction, then the goals will be adjusted.
2. In no way does the bill require each individual entity to reduce emissions by a specified amount. Rather, the goal is an overall reduction, with flexibility for individual entities depending on what is determined to be practical and feasible. Policies that affect particular economic sectors will continue to be shaped by stakeholders in an open, public process.
3. A study funded by Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development and carried out by the Baltimore-based International Center for Sustainable Development found that clean energy industries could generate between 144,000 and 326,000 jobs over the next 20 years, contributing $5.7 billion in wages and salaries to Maryland citizens and boosting state and local tax revenues by $973 million. A policy that encourages innovation is an opportunity for the creation of large numbers of well-paying new jobs in the green economy of the future. This point has been emphasized by both Democratic presidential candidates. Maryland businesses can become leaders in developing these new technologies.
4. In a recent interview published in Mckinsey Quarterly, national leaders in the steel industry said that “innovation will be important to make our steel making processes more energy efficient and environmentally sound and to improve our product capabilities: lighter, stronger steels can meet the evolving needs of our customers, for example.”
We are in a green revolution. Things will change. We cannot stop that. The question remains: do we try to hold the reins of change so that it can be done in an equitable manner, before additional, potentially irreversible, environmental degradation occurs, while assisting in the development of new technologies and helping those who need to be retrained in the new green economy? Or do we resist this for a misguided short-term non-action that in the long run will hurt everyone, even those purportedly helped by doing nothing?