Climate justice has been a priority for me as a state legislator. To make real and substantial progress, though, requires efforts on many levels–international, national, state, local, and individual. As I consider various policy and programmatic options, I focus on three key energy goals: 1. Use Less 2. Electrify Everything 3. Clean Up the Grid
Here are examples of some of the more hopeful efforts I have encountered recently for each of these goals:
USE LESS * Save While Switching to Cleaner Energy! The White House recently launched CleanEnergy.gov, a new website to help consumers, families, and small business owners save money through the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits and rebates. The website helps users navigate how to lower their monthly utility bills, bring down the sticker price of electric vehicles, save money on buying home appliances, and much more.
*Increase Efficiency My website also lists some important state programs to help promote energy efficiency.
ELECTRIFY EVERYTHING *Get Gas Out of Our Buildings To meet our ambitious climate goals, we must turn away from burning. We need to transition away from using gas to heat our homes, our hot water, and cook our meals. In Montgomery County, 50% of carbon emissions (climate pollution) is a result of direct use of gas, heating oil, and propane in buildings. My friends at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network have begun an effort to pass a comprehensive building decarbonization bill (Bill 13-22) at the county level. Click here to find out more about this important effort.
*Get Into Geothermal (in a big way!) One of the most efficient ways to electrify our heating systems is through geothermal and this week I got to see an innovative way to do this with networked geothermal systems designed to replace the gas infrastructure, which is being piloted in Massachusetts. I have been following this program closely for several years. The approach makes ultra-efficient geothermal heating and cooling accessible to an entire neighborhood, instead of installing geothermal systems house by house.
Geothermal heating and cooling is a crucial piece of the electrification puzzle because it uses less electricity and will require fewer upgrades to the electric grid. With utility-scale community geothermal, residents would pay less than they currently pay on utility bills. When I passed my own geothermal legislation in 2021, I directed the Maryland Energy Administration to study this model for replication in Maryland as we upgrade our energy infrastructure.
I invited officials from Washington Gas to join me on my field trip and they did! We met with Eversource and National Grid (the electric and gas companies involved), labor unions, and environmental advocates. I hope we can work together to transform Washington Gas’ product from fracked gas, which is destroying the planet and harming our health, to networked renewable geothermal to both heat and cool our homes.
You can find more on the model here.
CLEAN UP THE GRID My work to shift our electricity generation from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy continues. I have already begun working with advocates and drafting legislation on a variety of topics for next year’s General Assembly, including significantly increasing the development of Off-Shore Wind in Maryland. Off-Shore Wind is a high capacity, clean energy source, and the development of the industry in Maryland will create good union jobs. I am also working to increase solar options.
And More! In addition to my energy work, I am preparing legislation on food security, youth mental health, unemployment insurance, safety net services, pedestrian safety, and more. I will provide more information about these in future newsletters, so stay tuned!
Battleground Canvassing I continue to go out every weekend (and some weekdays!) to canvass for Democratic candidates in battleground districts here in Maryland. If you want to join in the effort, sign up here.
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