Activists Rally Around Bill to Clean Up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

Climate legislation passed this session must include cutting polluting, carbon-intensive fuel sources out of Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard, groups say

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

On Tuesday, activists from the Reclaim Renewable Energy Coalition (REC), a group of over 20 environmental and social justice organizations, testified in the Senate Finance committee hearing in favor of SB0616 and strengthening it with amendments. The bill would remove dirty energy derived from polluting incineration from Maryland’s signature clean energy program, the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Reclaim REC members from around the state are united in the call for critical amendments to ensure that the bill would remove all carbon-intensive dirty fuel sources from the program.

As it stands, definitional flaws in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard allow dirty energy sources including trash incineration, factory farm biogas, and burning wood products to count towards the state’s renewable energy goals. A recent report by PEER found that as of 2020, about 25% of the state’s “clean” energy money financed polluters. Absent action to clean up the Renewable Portfolio Standard, any climate legislation passed in 2022 threatens to double down on expanding dirty energy, rather than facilitate a transition to truly clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Food & Water Watch Maryland Organizer Lily Hawkins said:

“At this critical moment for bold climate action, Maryland’s signature clean energy program is rife with loopholes that prop up polluters, undermining the very purpose of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Climate action in the state legislature must include passage of SB0616 with amendments to clear out all polluting energy sources from our Renewable Portfolio Standard. It’s time Maryland ratepayers stopped financing the polluters supercharging the climate crisis.”

“Community leaders in Frederick County, Carroll County, and Baltimore City had to fight for almost a decade to prevent new trash incinerators from being built — incinerators that were falsely greenwashed as environmental solutions and would have received ‘renewable energy’ subsidies through the RPS. And now, communities on the Eastern Shore are facing the same fight against new factory farm biogas,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Coordinator at Clean Water Action. “It’s time to take trash incineration and other pollutants out of our RPS. Maryland needs to double down on real renewables, not force ratepayers to subsidize the very polluting facilities we’re trying to fight.”

“We fully support taking incineration out of the RPS,” said Assateague Coastkeeper Gabby Ross with the Assateague Coastal Trust. “We have a long way to go as far as getting other dirty energy sources out of the RPS. Taxpayer dollars should not be invested in energy sources that are polluting our most vulnerable communities. We have to act now.”

A recording of yesterday’s rally is available here.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]