Maryland's Environmental and Energy Policy Moving Backward under the Hogan Administration

by Jeremy Baker | September 29, 2016

Larry Hogan promised to be the "best environmental governor that's ever served" in Maryland. But three recent policy developments call that claim into question. 

Earlier this year, the Hogan administration vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would have raised Maryland's renewable energy portfolio standard – the share of electricity that energy providers must derive from renewable sources – from 20 percent by 2022 to 25 percent by 2020. A stronger commitment to renewable energy could have had a tremendous effect on the state economy, attracting clean energy providers and other environmentally conscious companies. Moreover, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the act would have raised monthly utility bills by only $1 to $2. 

With the veto, the governor declined to increase the renewable energy goal and shorten the time period for achieving it, despite being in a position to do so. Instead, he threw his support behind more traditional means of energy generation, including coal. Coal-fired power plants currently generate a significant portion of the state's electricity and emit hazardous pollution that causes significant health problems for residents, including asthma attacks and cardiovascular complications. 

On a second related policy front, the Hogan administration announced that it would consider dropping out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the cap-and-trade agreement among nine northeastern states to reduce harmful greenhouse gases, in response to a push to strengthen the ...

Federal District Court: Feds May Not Regulate Fracking on Federal Lands

by Hannah Wiseman | June 22, 2016
In a merits opinion issued on June 21, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming (Judge Skavdahl) held that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management--the agency tasked with protecting and preserving federal lands for multiple uses by the public--lacks the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on federally-owned and managed lands. Using a Chevron step 1 analysis (one standard used to review agencies' interpretation of the meaning of statutes that grant agencies authority), the court finds that "Congress has directly spoken ...

Local Governments' Lost Voice in Energy Decisions

by Hannah Wiseman | June 07, 2016
The Colorado Supreme Court's decisions last month holding that local governments in Colorado could not ban or place long-term moratoria on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") added to the growing list of states that have preempted local control over this oil and gas production method. This is a troublesome trend and one that calls for closer scrutiny as more states follow this path. Local governments are "merely" arms of the state, and, therefore, states do have the power to take back the ...

Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing -- Can/Will States do the Job?

by Ben Somberg | January 07, 2010
A few months ago Rena Steinzor wrote skeptically here about state (as opposed to federal) regulation of hydraulic fracturing: ... the idea that after doing all this research, EPA should stand back and let the gas-producing states take the lead, stepping in only after much more delay, would amount to a rollback of environmental protection to the dark days of the 1950s and 1960s, before modern environmentalism and federal regulation began. Last week ProPublica had a useful article on a ...

Climate Change Schizophrenia: Cash For Coal Clunkers, Anthems for Natural Gas, and Delaying Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Won't Win this Epic Battle

by Rena Steinzor | September 02, 2009
Those of us worried sick over climate change confronted a depressing piece of excellent reporting in Monday's Washington Post. Environment reporter David Fahrenthold wrote that environmental organizations are getting their proverbial clocks cleaned by a well-organized and pervasive campaign mounted by affected industries in small and mid-size communities throughout America. “It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up,” Fahrenthold wrote. “Even now, these groups differ on whether to scare the public with predictions ...

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