The Maryland House has overridden Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016, legislation that would boost the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020.
In total, 88 members of the House of Delegates voted for the override, and 51 voted against it. The Senate is expected to take up the override vote in the coming days, according to the Maryland Climate Coalition.
The Maryland Climate Coalition estimates that the act, introduced as S.B.921 and H.B.1106, would create incentives for roughly 1.3 GW of new clean energy in Maryland and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by over 2.7 million metric tons per year. The legislation also includes raising the solar carve-out to 2.5% by 2020 (from 2% by 2022).
“Unlike President Trump’s skepticism about climate change, the Senate voted for the Clean Energy Jobs Act because it is sound economic and environmental policy,” says Sen. Brian Feldman, lead sponsor of the Senate version of bill. “Not only will this legislation create thousands of good-paying green jobs, it will put the state on the road to meeting our renewable energy goals – a vision shared by both Democrats and Republicans across Maryland.”
In his veto message issued last May, the governor said, “This legislation is a tax increase that will be levied upon every single electricity ratepayer in Maryland, and for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law.” Specifically, he said the bill would have led to a rise in taxes of between $49 million and $196 million by 2020.
“With the House override, Maryland’s legislature has voted for progress,” states Delegate Bill Frick, top sponsor of the House bill, who adds that the legislature is “rejecting the disingenuous and inaccurate posturing of Hogan’s politically motivated veto message.”
David Smedick, the Sierra Club’s Maryland Chapter representative, says the group expects the Senate to “act quickly to put this smart renewable energy policy into place once and for all.”
“Today, the Maryland House of Delegates showed its commitment to fighting climate change and growing Maryland’s clean energy economy,” he says. “The carbon pollution reduced by this bill is equivalent to removing 500,000 cars from the road. With the Trump administration moving to silence even a mention of climate change, states like Maryland will need to lead this fight.”
Earlier this month, the American Wind Energy Association said Maryland would risk losing jobs and investment in renewable energy sources if the governor’s veto stood. Wind power already supports close to 500 jobs in Maryland and has attracted $380 million in private investment to date, the group said.