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Maryland Assembly Overturns Republican Governor's Clean Energy Veto

By Nithin Coca

Want some good news? In Maryland, the state assembly just overturned Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a clean energy jobs act -- showing once again that the march toward clean energy will continue, despite what's happening in Washington D.C.

The bill in question is the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016, a bill with bipartisan support in the state. It would create new incentives for renewable energy to expand in Maryland, including increasing the state's renewable energy portfolio standards to 25 percent by 2020.

Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill last year. But it received an astounding 88 votes in favor (versus just 51 in opposition) in the state House, with representatives voting as their constituents desired. The Senate followed days later.

This is a major victory for the environment and clean energy in Maryland, and will help the state continue to be a leader despite who some call a backward-thinking governor.

“Gov. Hogan should take notice: Marylanders want progress, not ideological obstruction,” Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a press statement.

“They want science, not denial. They want action, not grandstanding – and jobs, not rhetoric.”

The bill will have wide-ranging positive impacts for Maryland. Besides expanding clean energy, it is estimated it will reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions by over 2.7 metric tons a year. Proponents say it will also create an estimated 1,000 well-paying jobs while preventing 25 to 50 premature deaths a year.

As mentioned, the bill received bipartisan support in the House and enjoys broad public support as well, with 63 percent of Marylanders expressing support for the legislation in public opinion surveys.

And that is something that is not unique to Maryland – all across the country, people strongly support clean, renewable energy and climate action. Even a majority of Republicans want to see us act on climate. With this data in mind, it seems the deniers in charge in D.C. don't represent Americans, but a tiny minority of fringe activists and the few companies (such as ExxonMobil) that refuse to accept reality.

That's why for many this was a message not only to Gov. Hogan, but also to the president whose climate-denying policies Hogan supports.

“The Maryland House of Delegates voted to reject the anti-environmental agendas of both Larry Hogan and Donald Trump today,” Tidwell said. “This is one of the first state legislative votes nationwide to show that states WILL fight back when leaders like Hogan and the climate deniers in Washington attempt to thwart progress on clean-energy jobs and global warming pollution.”

Environmental activists and supportive business leaders across the country are preparing to fight the new administration's policies, while also promoting strong, decisive action at the state level is a crucial tool for progress. Maryland just set an example of how we can act on clean energy, even with Republican leadership -- and potentially leverage such policies to drive bipartisan collaboration. It's time for the rest of the America to follow.

Image credit: Thisisbossi via Wikimedia Commons

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Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on environmental, social, and economic issues around the world, with specific expertise in Southeast Asia.

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