Top Environmental Group to Focus on Bills Addressing the Climate Crisis and advancing Environmental Justice

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Downtown Annapolis was flooded during Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The combination of rising sea levels and extreme events like hurricanes will mean even more flooding in the future.
Downtown Annapolis was flooded during Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The combination of rising sea levels and extreme events like hurricanes will mean even more flooding in the future. Photo: Maryland.gov

Annapolis, MD – On the first day of the 2021 Maryland General Assembly Legislative session, Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) announced their legislative priorities, with a specific focus on comprehensively addressing the climate crisis and the disproportionate impacts of pollution on Maryland’s underrepresented communities.

“Climate change is an urgent threat facing our country and our state,” said Maryland LCV board chair, Lynn Heller.  Heller, whose term as board chair began just last month, said that the organization is approaching the 2021 session with a renewed vitality and focus thanks to a recently completed strategic plan. “Our new plan is centered around climate change and environmental justice, and it will guide the organization’s work in 2021 and beyond,” Heller said, adding that “Maryland LCV will work to mobilize Marylanders to promote and pass equitable laws and policies for clean water, healthy air and a resilient climate.”

Maryland LCV’s top two legislative priorities will be the Climate Solutions Now bill and the Transit Safety Investment Act.

Climate Solutions Now would move Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction goal to net zero by 2045. The bill will provide several low-cost mitigation policies to reduce pollution, including bus electrification and tree plantings in underserved urban areas, calling on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to determine the percentage of state funds spent on climate change that must go to environmental justice communities, and the creation of a work group to protect impacted workers.

“Climate Solutions Now will rebuild Maryland’s economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing Maryland’s overburdened communities,” said Maryland LCV executive director, Kim Coble. “Maryland legislators have a responsibility to meaningfully address the climate crisis and a diverse coalition is emerging to hold them to that obligation.”

The Transit Safety and Investment Act, mandates an increase of $123 million annually from the Transportation Trust Fund for the next ten years for the transit system “state of good repair” needs identified by the MTA.

“Investments in transit reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce roughly twice the number of jobs per dollar as the same investment in roads,” said Coble.  “We have seen during this pandemic that many of our essential workers, especially in health care, rely on public transit to get to their life-saving jobs, but our public transit system is unreliable. They deserve better.”

The organization will also work to strengthen the existing Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities through the Environmental Justice Commission Bill. The bill will include revisions to commission membership, goals, authority, and reporting requirements.

Coble added that Maryland LCV will pursue its entire agenda with diverse coalitions across the state, made up of other environmental advocates; social justice, community, and faith leaders; and business and labor groups.

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