Celebrating National Public Health Week, Clean Air, and a Healthy Climate

Legislators just passed a bill that would help power our buildings and transportation with renewable energy, replacing fossil fuel technologies with clean, electric alternatives.

Clean Air

Maryland’s reliance on polluting fuels puts our health and safety at risk. And if we don’t act fast, energy customers will be trapped with the financial burden of ever-increasing costs for outdated gas infrastructure.

Legislators just passed a bill that would help power our buildings and transportation with renewable energy, replacing fossil fuel technologies with clean, electric alternatives.

Gov. Hogan will decide this week if he will veto the bill, and if he does, the legislature will have to vote again to override the veto during the current legislative session. 

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The Climate Solution Now Act (SB528) will reduce pollution from transportation and buildings, protecting public health and the planet.

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This legislation will mean cleaner air to breathe, healthier families and a safer climate for all of us. The Climate Solutions Now Act (SB528) would put Maryland on a path to net zero emissions by 2045, help transition state government vehicles and school buses to electric vehicles, require large buildings to reduce emissions, and establish a task force to examine how to cut fossil fuel use in new and existing buildings.

These are significant public health initiatives. We’re seeing the impacts of climate change on our health through increased asthma and cardiovascular events on poor air quality days, longer allergy seasons, more ticks and mosquitoes carrying diseases, and severe and frequent flooding. The Climate Solutions Now Act will provide short term and long term benefits for Marylanders’ health, and help ensure a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.

In celebration of National Public Health Week, health professionals from across Maryland recognize the achievement of the passage of the Climate Solutions Now Act:

“Fossil fuel pollution is an urgent public health threat and affects every aspect of our lives. We applaud the General Assembly for passing this bill to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jody Gan, the President of the Maryland Public Health Association. “We urge Governor Hogan to sign this bill into law so all Marylanders can breathe easier.”

“Children are not little adults. Their bodies, brains and organ systems are growing and developing, which makes them more susceptible to the effects of climate change. These include heat stress from rising temperatures, respiratory illness from worsening air quality and mental health stresses from extreme weather events and an uncertain future,” said Michael Ichniowski, MD, Environmental Health and Climate Change Committee Chair, Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Reducing harmful emissions with cleaner transportation and energy-efficient buildings through the Climate Solutions Now Act will benefit our children now and will create the opportunity for a healthier world in which they can continue to grow.”

“As a nurse midwife who practiced for six years in Prince George’s County, I have seen firsthand pregnant women struggling to breathe when they come into my office on the poor air quality days that are becoming more common as the climate changes,” said Katie Huffling, Executive Director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “Hard-hitting legislation, such as the Climate Solutions Now Act, will improve the health of all Marylanders now and for generations to come.”

“Changes in our climate are creating conditions that harm our health,” said Dr. Elise Riley, MD FACP a member of the Board of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.  “Climate change directly results in heat related deaths as well as increases in respiratory and cardiovascular  illness and death. It also leads to increasing risks of infectious diseases and insect borne illnesses. Every year we delay makes the situation more urgent. Maryland must implement this critical legislation now to improve the quality and safety of our air, food, and water for the health and wellbeing of our state.”

“Climate pollution has severe impacts on asthma, cardiac health, and long term mortality,” said Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. “By implementing this bill, we will save millions of dollars annually in Medicaid costs for Maryland.”

“Climate change is a health threat impacting cancer patients now, and one that seriously concerns the oncology community,” said Christine D. Berg, M.D., Oncologists United for Climate and Health. “Governor Hogan should sign the Climate Solutions Now Act as an important public health measure to reduce acute harms from emissions and set the state on a path for mitigating climate change on a larger scale.”

“In my work as a clinical psychologist, I believe that the climate crisis is the greatest mental health crisis we face. I’m pleased to see the progress of SB528 through the Maryland General Assembly,” said Jonathan Gorman, PsyD. “While there is no magic recipe to save the planet, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and working toward environmental justice for disproportionately affected communities are central ingredients.”

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Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.

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