Governor Larry Hogan Announces 2017 Environmental Agenda
Proposes Robust Legislative Package, $65 Million Investment To Protect Maryland’s Environment
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today announced key elements of the administration’s environmental agenda for the 2017 legislative session, which includes targeted investments and market-based solutions to protect and preserve Maryland’s environment and natural resources. The governor’s 2017 Environmental Package includes initiatives to grow jobs in green industries, promote the use of electric vehicles, invest in renewable energy innovations, and promote clean water commerce. In total, the proposals outlined by Governor Hogan represent nearly $65 million of investment in Maryland’s environment.
“The proposals in our package are innovative, forward-thinking solutions to ensure that Maryland continues to lead the way to safeguard our environment,” said Governor Hogan. “I look forward to working with legislators to get these common sense measures passed. We owe it to the next generation to continue to find cost-effective ways to protect Maryland’s environment and stimulate economic growth.”
Governor Hogan’s 2017 Environmental Package is comprised of four initiatives designed to protect Maryland’s natural resources while fostering economic and job growth. In addition to these targeted proposals, $41 million will be invested in Tier 1 renewable projects through the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, as part of $44 million Exelon must pay in liquidated damages to the State of Maryland. The first of these initiatives is a $3 million targeted investment in Maryland’s EARN Program to train 1,500 workers for jobs in the solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other green industries. This proposal would be Maryland’s first significant investment in workforce training for green jobs.
Governor Hogan also announced his plan to introduce the Clean Cars Act of 2017, which will increase the investment in the Electric Vehicle tax credit program by over 30 percent and double the Charging Station rebate. Increasing these tax credits will make the purchase and use of electric vehicles more affordable and convenient, encouraging Maryland consumers and businesses to invest in this environmentally friendly mode of travel.
“Making it easier and more affordable to invest in alternative energy is essential to move Maryland toward a cleaner energy future,” said Maryland Energy Administration Director Dr. Mary Beth Tung. “The governor’s legislative package goes a long way toward encouraging cleaner, greener, and smarter use of our energy resources.”
In addition, Governor Hogan announced $7.5 million in funding to create the Green Energy Institute (GEI), a collaboration between the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) and the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC). The mission of the Green Energy Institute will be to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations in Maryland.
Finally, the governor unveiled his plan to introduce the Clean Water Commerce Act, which will allow up to $10 million of the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to purchase nutrient reduction credits, enabling the state to meet its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan goals by 2025 through innovation and public private partnerships.
“Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, Maryland has already made great strides to restore the Chesapeake Bay and protect our precious natural resources,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “The initiatives proposed in the governor’s legislative package will ensure that Maryland continues to make generational progress in improving our environment.”
Governor Hogan’s 2017 Environmental Package follows two years of marked progress in environmental protection and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Shortly after taking office in 2015, Governor Hogan brought together stakeholders from the business, agricultural, and environmental communities to address the issue of phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay, resulting in enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations to improve water quality while bolstering rural economies.
Under the Hogan administration, Maryland has invested $53 million in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund – the highest level of investment since the fund was established – marking the first time in state history that funding dedicated specifically for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay has not been diverted to the General Fund.
In May, the Chesapeake Bay received its highest score for water quality in nearly a quarter century, according to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the Bay have dropped dramatically compared to recent years.
Governor Hogan has also made it a top priority of his administration to promote land conservation and preserve green spaces across the state. The administration enacted legislation to protect against further raids of Program Open Space and restored $60 million to that program. In 2015, the Hogan administration enacted legislation that expanded and codified the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and last year took proactive steps to ensure Maryland’s position as national leader in combating greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, Governor Hogan is leading the effort to seek innovative and cost-effective solutions at the Conowingo Dam to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution from states upstream, which flows down the Susquehanna River and poses a serious threat to the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay.