Maryland’s Governor Talks Tough on Climate. Where’s The Action?

Published Jul 2, 2024

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Climate and Energy

Governor Wes Moore’s new executive order promises bold climate action but lacks any concrete steps to a 100% clean energy future. Maryland deserves better.

Governor Wes Moore’s new executive order promises bold climate action but lacks any concrete steps to a 100% clean energy future. Maryland deserves better.

In June, Maryland Governor Wes Moore visited an elementary school in Baltimore to unveil a new executive order that he said would help Maryland reach “net-zero” emissions. By the fall, every state agency will need to create a “climate action plan.” 

It’s the kind of thing that gets a lot of media attention, and it sounds like a move in the right direction. 

But it’s not really anything at all. At its core, this is a plan to create yet more plans. We’ve already heard enough of this kind of talk from the Governor. But we’ve yet to see real policies that will deliver the concrete climate benefits Marylanders need.

Moore is Talking the Talk but Hasn’t Walked the Walk

Governor Moore’s climate rhetoric has always been clear. In his inaugural speech, he declared that climate change is “an existential threat for our entire state.” More recently, he said that his administration would do more than just set bold goals; he promised that “we are going to hit every single one of them.”

When will that day arrive? 

In the summer of 2023, the Maryland Department of the Environment hosted hearings meant to finalize a sweeping climate plan for every sector of the economy. Environmental organizations and concerned citizens participated in hours of these hearings, expecting that they’d culminate in a visionary plan that the Moore administration would then enact.  

Then, come fall, we expected Governor Moore to announce plans for the legislative session, as governors usually do. But all we heard from him were crickets.

During the last legislative session, Governor Moore failed to articulate any big initiatives to achieve the goals of the state’s landmark climate law. By the time the session wrapped up, there was little to no progress to speak of. Instead, Moore took Maryland steps backward. The Governor supported legislation to promote data centers relying on more fossil fuel generators, which will likely increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Maryland’s Bold Climate Law Needs a Bold Governor Willing to Act

The goals in the state’s climate law, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, are among the strongest in the nation: a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (from 2006 levels) by 2031, 100% clean energy by 2035, and “net-zero” emissions by 2045. But it was passed under former Governor Larry Hogan, who was not a climate champion and did not act aggressively to enact real policies. 

It’s clear that the Climate Solutions Now Act still needs to be updated and fortified. Goals aren’t the same as actions, and two and a half years into his term, Governor Moore has failed to back legislation or implement actions that fulfill the vision he keeps talking about. We have seen no concrete policies that actually require the state to meet the goals set forth in the law.

So how are Marylanders supposed to interpret the Governor’s June executive order, announced in front of kids who will face the most devastating effects of climate change if we fail to act? It did make for a nice photo op.  

But the Governor is just asking his agencies to do the same thing they did last year: come up with another plan, listen to stakeholders, and wait for Moore to decide what he wants to prioritize. He already has 2023’s report in hand — the plans laid out in his Executive Order are just adding delay. Fool us once, Governor, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us.

False Solutions and Magical Thinking Won’t Cut It

In the absence of substantive action, we are left to parse the administration’s previous reports for clues as to where the Moore administration may be going. Its major 2023 climate report says Maryland is already making substantial progress to reduce climate pollution — but then it also says the state is not on track to meet its renewable energy goals, most tellingly in solar and wind development.

When it comes to meeting the long-range goals, the same report says the state will rapidly develop “carbon capture” and direct air capture. Those technologies are being promoted by the fossil fuel industry and do not actually reduce pollution. In reality, both only serve as lifelines to the industry to keep their power plants open decades longer. 

Industry allies in Maryland and nationally are pushing climate scams as part of a “clean energy” future. But we cannot pretend that we can create a clean energy future by expanding nuclear energy, relying on bogus hydrogen and carbon capture technology, or promoting so-called “renewable natural gas” schemes that run on factory farm waste. 

Rather than dangerous, dubious so-called “climate solutions,” Marylanders need and deserve actually clean energy. That means electrification, energy efficiency, and a 100% transition to renewables These are the real solutions necessary to avert climate catastrophe and cut harmful pollution.

Maryland Needs Climate Action — Now 

It is well past time for the Moore administration to live up to its own climate rhetoric. The state needs a bonafide, actionable plan to get to 100% clean energy — not press events that merely ask government agencies to waste months creating redundant “implementation” plans. 

Governor Moore has spoken forcefully about the need to tackle the climate crisis. Now, he must create real-world policies that match his rhetoric.

Urge the Governor to take real action to phase out fossil fuels and help Maryland finally reach 100% clean energy.

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