Statement: MEA gas infrastructure spending bad for consumers and the environment

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BALTIMORE — The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced a $9 million grant program on Wednesday for expanding methane gas infrastructure across the state.

Many Marylanders have used methane gas (often known by the relatively innocuous term “natural gas”) to heat their homes for more than a century. All that time, methane gas infrastructure has been prone to leaks, endangering communities and the environment. When people use methane for home heating and cooking, it produces dangerous levels of indoor air pollution. As a result, children living in homes where people cook meals with gas-powered appliances have a 42% higher chance of experiencing asthma symptoms. Gas stoves also contribute more to climate change than previously thought because many of them continuously leak methane — even when turned off. 

Therefore, environmental and public health advocates are denouncing the grant program. Instead, they are calling for a statewide shift in the power source for heating, cooking and cooling in our homes and buildings — from gas to electricity. 

In response, Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr issued the following statement:

“Using gas to heat our homes and businesses is bad for the environment and our health, and increasingly unaffordable in broad swaths of Maryland. Through energy efficiency, building electrification and thoughtful planning, we have an opportunity to improve the well-being and economic security of all Marylanders.

“Every dollar spent on expanding gas infrastructure is a dollar wasted long term, and contributes to the ever-growing stranded costs of our gas infrastructure. These grants to gas utilities are additionally absurd because these companies already have the ability to recover these costs from their customers — and they do, with surcharges on our bills and through increased rates. MEA should pull the plug on this wrong-headed investment in gas, and the incoming administration and Legislature should put an end to the disastrous STRIDE program, which has facilitated billions of dollars of wasteful gas utility spending on the backs of consumers.

“Thanks to federal incentives, the cost to electrify homes is increasingly within reach for Maryland homeowners. There’s no justifying the outdated belief that gas is the best, or only, way to power a building. It’s time to transition to cleaner, safer electricity for our homes.

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