COMBATTING THE CLIMATE CRISIS
By 2040, the number of extreme weather incidents in Maryland is expected to nearly double. Human-caused climate change made the record-breaking rainfall during Hurricane Harvey three times more likely and 15% more intense. Worsening conditions now leave 110,000 Marylanders vulnerable to extreme heat, a trend already leading to measurable increases in hospitalizations in at-risk populations. The Center for Climate Integrity estimates that just the immediate responses to climate-caused coastal damage in Maryland between now and 2040 will be $27.4 billion, a figure that does not include infrastructure, public health, and other damage across the rest of the state. Climate change is real, and the problem is here.
The good news is we know what is driving this crisis: fossil fuels. The transportation sector accounts for 40% of Maryland’s emissions, with energy production accounting for another 26%. With bold electrification and decarbonization policies, a resolve to address environmental injustice, and investments in adaptation we can prevent the most catastrophic effects of the climate emergency.
Joe believes the best climate policies are those driven by science, with an eye towards equity and justice, and an unwavering commitment to what is in the best interest of Marylanders and our environment. He will never waver on his commitment to advancing bold climate solutions – regardless of what fossil fuel industries may prefer. He is not taking a penny from corporations, corporate PACs, Annapolis lobbyists, the fossil fuel industry or executives.
Electrification: We have a shrinking window of time to fully decarbonize our state. This will require rapid electrification of our residential, commercial, transportation, and industrial sectors. Joe supports strong building building energy standards and phased in regulations for new buildings to emit zero-emissions. Joe will advocate for funding to retrofit existing buildings, starting with schools and government buildings.
Public Transit: Transportation is the largest source of emissions in Maryland, and accordingly must be a focal point of the fight against climate change. To specifically address the environmental impact of transportation, Joe will:
Electrify Transportation Fleet: Support efforts to rapidly electrify our public transit fleet and school buses across the state.
Increase Ridership: Invest in a more reliable, accessible, and affordable public transportation system to boost ridership and get cars off the road.
MARC Train: Work to secure daily, all-day, bidirectional MARC train routes for Gaithersburg.
Electric Vehicles: Vote to extend and fully fund EV tax credits; build new fast charging electric vehicle stations along major highways and in communities to encourage and prepare for increased electric vehicle usage in the future.
Biking and Pedestrians: Expand Maryland’s existing walking and biking paths to allow for safe personal travel in communities to homes, schools, and workplaces.
Zero-Emissions Trucks: Trucks contribute 30% of carbon emissions and 57% of particulate matter. Joe will vote for the Zero Emission Truck Act to require that vehicle manufacturers sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission trucks and buses through 2035. California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington have enacted such regulations.
Renewable Energy Production: Support efforts to significantly scale up production of wind and solar energy, on track or exceeding the benchmark goals set by Climate Solutions Now Act and the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Joe recognizes the urgent need to deploy wind and solar energy infrastructure across the state. Here in our part of the state, we should lead the way in quickly scaling up solar infrastructure. The Maryland Wind Energy Area located in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic Ocean, has the potential to produce 850-1450 megawatts of commercial wind generation. Supporting projects to build and run renewable energy plants is a way to create jobs, support the economy, and address the climate crisis. Joe will make sure every Marylander has a place in the green economy.
In parallel to reforming Maryland’s overall energy portfolio, Joe would work to empower counties and cities by enabling CCEs. CCEs are local government-run energy programs that allow cities and counties to fast track their own transition to renewable energy sources by independently purchasing energy with higher renewable and lower greenhouse gas content, all at a lower cost to consumers. H.B. 768: Montgomery County Community Choice Energy Pilot Program in 2021 was a valuable first step, and if it proves successful Joe would advocate for similar programs to be enabled in other counties interested in achieving a greener energy portfolio. We need to be smart about leveraging rooftops, brownfields, and unproductive urban space for solar panels and clean energy production. Joe will also work to make it easier, not harder, for families to install rooftop solar.
Environmental Justice: For too long, communities of color in our state have faced the brunt of pollution. Black Marylanders are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases such as asthma and cancers, due to the exposure to air toxins. Joe will fight to ensure every community in our state has clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. He will advocate for environmental action to focus on the communities that have been ignored for too long, and push to include representatives from these communities as decisions are being made.
Clean Water in Schools: Too many schools in our county and state have elevated levels of lead in the water fountains. Elevated lead levels can have devastating consequences on the health of young people. Joe will bring attention to this issue, and advocate for urgently needed solutions.
Adaptation: Unfortunately, we will not be able to avoid all the consequences of the climate crisis. We need to make necessary investments in adaptation and resilience, to mitigate the harm our state will experience from sea level rise and natural disasters. Joe will ensure our community gets a fair share of adaptation funding, and that frontline communities receive the resiliency resources they urgently need. Joe also supports efforts to have counties conduct holistic assessments of their adaptation process as has been previously proposed in the General Assembly.
End Coal: Advocate for the closure of all coal plants in Maryland, and support programs to ensure a just transition for workers. Support efforts to turn existing sites, such as the Dickerson Plant, into large scale solar energy generation facilities.
Environmental Human Rights Amendment: In 1973 the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Environmental Policy Act which recognized that “each person has the fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment.” Yet, many state agencies failed to enact rules to enforce this right and the policy lies dormant. An Environmental Human Rights Act would bring about a new level of accountability for actors in our state, ensuring that this fundamental right that underpins so many others is upheld for all Marylanders.
Stop Subsidies for Trash Incineration: Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard should only include clean renewable energies. Trash incineration poses serious harm to the health of surrounding communities, which has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color. According to the NRDC, “80% of U.S. municipal solid waste incinerators are situated in communities where more than 25% of people identify as “minority,” living below the federal poverty rate, or both.”
Climate Innovation: Climate innovation presents a major economic opportunity for our state. Montgomery County has the potential to be at the forefront of this industry growth, and can do so in a way that drives economic prosperity, creates good paying jobs, attracts young workers, and supports small businesses. Maryland should incentivize R&D and encourage the growth of start ups and Maryland-based businesses working on innovative climate solutions by incentivizing these efforts and providing the tools and resources necessary to get the job done. Technologies such as carbon capture, high capacity batteries, and power-to-X are considered key to the continued growth of the renewable energy sector and the future of our economy. Joe will support the passage of tax credits to ensure that development happens here in Maryland.
Climate Conservation Corps: Build on the progress achieved this past session with the Maryland Corps Act and the Clean Solutions Now Act. Expand these programs while working to ensure corps members receive good compensation and benefits.
Divest the Maryland Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels: Continuing to invest pension funds in fossil fuels is a risky financial investment, and one that is harmful to our planet.
Reducing Waste: Maryland produces 21,000 tons of solid waste every day, a number that puts strain on waste processing facilities as well as our ecosystems. We need to take decisive action. Ten states have introduced bans on single use plastic bags; I would advocate for Maryland to join these ranks. I would vote in support of legislation to create a commission to develop a bottle-return program, expand composting programs, and producer-responsibility regulations. I would explore opportunities to incentivize transition to compostable foodware and packing, when reusable products are not available.
Synthetic Turf: Synthetic turf fields pose significant dangers to our environment. As Delegate, Joe will highlight the dangers of turf fields and advocate for solutions to keep athletes and our environment safe.