Statements: Maryland public health groups applaud passage of public health and climate bill

Media Contacts
Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Groups urge the governor to sign bill to strengthen climate action goals and reduce pollution from buildings and transportation

Maryland PIRG

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House voted 95-42 and the Senate voted 32-15 this week to pass the Climate Solutions Now Act (SB528) to improve the state’s current goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2031 with a net zero goal for 2045. The bill would increase the state’s electric vehicle fleet, require large buildings to reduce emissions, and direct the Maryland Public Service Commission to study electrification and grid capacity, with a report to the legislature by September 2023. The bill will also allocate resources to communities disproportionately affected by climate impacts, establish an electric school bus pilot program, and expand the Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program to include climate and clean energy projects. Public health groups say this bill will improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs for Marylanders. Now, the bill heads to Gov. Larry Hogan, where he can sign, veto or let the bill go into law without signature.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky, chair of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Similar bills in the House were sponsored by Dels. Kumar Barve and Dana Stein, chair and vice chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee, respectively. 

In response, prominent Maryland public health groups issued their support for signing this bill into law:

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Pollution from fossil fuel powered buildings and transportation puts Maryland families’ health and safety at risk. This bill will protect public health by moving us toward more efficient buildings powered by clean energy,” Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr said. “A healthy climate is key to a healthy and safe future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, and we hope Gov. Hogan will sign this critical bill into law”

“In Maryland, more than 650,000 kids ride school buses,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “The Electric School Bus Pilot Program in Climate Solutions Now puts the health of Maryland’s youth and communities first by putting us on a path to transition the state’s school bus fleet to clean, zero-emission electric school buses.”