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Travis Madsen,
Environment Maryland

Howard County sees Big Benefits from Pollution Reduction Program

Immediate Release

For Additional Information: Andrea Anderson, aanderson@environmentmaryland.org, 301-467-3244

Baltimore, MD — Curbing dangerous carbon pollution can reduce the risk of global warming and benefit local communities at the same time, according to a report released today by Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center. The group notes that Maryland stands to benefit even more if a current pollution reduction program is strengthened.

“We can cut carbon pollution and build a clean energy economy —which is a win-win for Maryland,” said Andrea Anderson, Campaign Organizer at Environment Maryland. “We’re proving it every day.” 

The report, Carbon-Cutting Success Stories, details how businesses and organizations of all types and sizes are embracing clean energy as a way to create new opportunities and to save money. At the same time, they are helping states to achieve their goals for reducing dangerous carbon pollution. Maryland has a goal of reducing warming pollution across the economy by at least 40 percent by 2030. The report comes as Maryland officials discuss how to deliver on this promise. 

“A 5% annual cap reduction in RGGI will have both short- and long-term health benefits for Marylanders:  In the short term, it will reduce the tremendous personal and economic burden of pollution-related respiratory and cardiovascular disease,” said Sara Via, Climate Health Action Team Leader at Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. “In the long-term, it will allow Maryland to achieve the 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 that we all need to avoid a catastrophic global temperature increase.”

The report highlights seven cities, businesses and institutions that have made groundbreaking progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy that dramatically reduce their contributions to global warming, while also helping their bottom lines. These projects were supported by revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a program that limits carbon pollution from power plants and makes polluters pay for the privilege of using the sky for waste disposal. Much of the revenue is then invested in clean energy programs.

The report also looks at two exciting projects built to capture opportunities for new markets created by the increasing need for pollution-free energy. 

Here in Maryland, the report highlights how the Community Action Council of Howard County has provided efficiency upgrades to low and moderate income households. Their work in 2014, including an energy efficiency upgrade for the Shalom Square senior living complex in Columbia, now saves residents $70,000 per year – while also preventing as much carbon pollution as emitted by 70 passenger cars.

“This isn’t just a cookie cutter program,” says Gary Christopher, Director of Weatherization for the Community Action Council of Howard County. “This program lets us take our own approach to achieve the best efficiency improvements for specific situations, whether that’s through the installation of efficient water heating, or through LED lighting.”

Other projects covered in the report include:

  • The Matthias Agriculture Program helped five Maryland poultry farms upgrade their energy efficiency in 2014, reducing energy bills while cutting as much carbon pollution as emitted by 200 passenger vehicles annually.
  • SolarCity’s “GigaFactory” in Buffalo, New York will become the largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere when it comes online in 2017. The company expects to create 3,000 jobs in Buffalo over the next decade.
  • Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut upgraded its cooling, heating and lighting systems, saving $23,000 per year on electricity. The project prevents 140 metric tons of carbon pollution per year – comparable to the emissions of 30 passenger cars.
  • The towns of Swampscott and Wenham in Massachusetts installed energy-efficient street lighting, saving the towns more than $100,000 per year, and preventing as much carbon pollution as contained in 28,000 gallons of gasoline.
  • Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire installed new, energy-efficient brewing equipment, saving more than $1 million in energy costs annually and preventing carbon pollution equivalent to that would be produced by driving a car for almost 13 million miles. 

“In every facet of our economy, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is working,” said Anderson. “Whether you are a worker looking for a manufacturing job in Buffalo, a parent taking your child to the doctor in Connecticut, a senior citizen living in a retirement home in Maryland, or a millennial having a craft beer in New Hampshire, climate protection programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are helping to save money and create new opportunities – while protecting our climate for generations to come.”

The projects highlighted in the report are just the beginning when it comes to potential to use energy more efficiently, and to generate more of our energy from pollution-free resources. Offshore wind energy alone could meet the electricity needs of the East Coast five times over, with zero pollution.

Officials from Maryland are currently undertaking a review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and are expected to propose changes to the program in the coming months. Advocates are calling for Governor Hogan to double the benefits of the program by doubling the pollution reduction goals through 2030.

“The clean energy revolution is happening faster than anyone could have imagined even 10 years ago,” said Anderson. “We’re proving every day that clean energy works. Now it’s time for Governor Hogan to show that he is serious about meeting Maryland’s goal for cutting pollution and to double down on our progress.”

 

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Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.