WISE Environment Priority Legislation

WISE Environment Huddle’s Legislative Priorities 2018

1. Clean Energy Jobs Initiative

The Clean Energy Jobs Act includes input from union workers, the African American Caucus, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, public health advocates and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

We, at WISE, will be advocating for the passage of legislation in 2018 that calls for:

  • Expanding Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires utilities to buy a certain percentage of electricity each year from renewable sources, taking it from the current target of 25% by 2020 to 50% by 2030.
  • Transforming Maryland’s economy into a clean energy economy by positioning our state as an industry leader now, making it attractive for businesses to invest in Maryland’s workers and its future.
  • Strengthening Maryland’s RPS by removing incentives for trash incinerationwhich jeopardizes public health.
  • Making a substantial investment in training for good, clean energy jobs with livable wages and assistance for minority and women owned businesses working in this field.

For more information on this bill, click on this link. 

2.  Reforming the Public Service Commission

In 2018, WISE is supporting two pieces of legislation to address weaknesses in the Public Service Commission as highlighted by the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure.  Two glaring examples of these weaknesses include the TransCanada fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac River and the C & O Canal near Hancock, and Dominion’s Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas Export Terminal.

The reforms that WISE is supporting include the following two pieces of legislation:

  • Modernize the public notification process from the PSC by requiring notice via multiple forms of print and social media for all natural gas infrastructure (including at minimum: pipelines, compressor stations, underground storage tanks, power plants, liquefaction facilities, and export facilities) at the time of first contact, from the applicant with an intent to file, and keeping this record as a searchable item on the PSC website in an easily accessible portal.
  • Requirement of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on proposed natural gas infrastructure development project outlined in a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), including any major modifications to existing projects.

3.  Amending the Forest Conservation Act

Trees are being cut down at an unsustainable rate, and not enough are being replanted annually. WISE is committed to amending the Forest Conservation Act to protect our most ecologically valuable forests whenever possible, and require the replacement of priority forests when they are removed.

There are a number of ways that we can improve the FCA that would increase forest land in Maryland. WISE supports changes that emphasize the retention of Maryland’s best forests:

• Identify and protect Maryland’s best forests by providing a clear definition of ecologically important areas that should be considered a priority for retention and protections;

• Provide transparent and consistent criteria to be considered and applied by local governments when a developer proposes to clear priority forests;

• Require replacement of priority forests that are allowed to be cleared on a one-toone basis where an acre of forest replanting will be required when an acre of priority forest is removed;

• Require the review and planning for important natural resource protection to come earlier in the development review process to allow for site design improvement and reduced impacts on healthy forests;

• Authorize and encourage partnerships between state, local and nonprofit organizations engaged in tree-planting efforts to help use the fees paid by developers in lieu of the developer’s replanting requirements; and,

• Require a long-overdue update of the 1997 state guidance document that guides replanting efforts.