- County Climate Action Plan
- State Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Solar Power in the Agricultural Reserve
- Other County environmental efforts
County Climate Action Plan [CAP]
Issue: Both Montgomery and the State of Maryland have each set ambitious goals and drafted plans for addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The key questions are how to achieve these goals, by when, and at what costs?
Actions: The county’s goal is an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions [GGE] by 2027 and 100% by 2035.
To achieve this goal, the County Executive established a working group of citizens and organizations to create a Climate Action Plan. The Plan covers changes in:
- Clean energy generation
- Carbon sequestration
- Public engagement
- 02/28/2021 Public comments on the working group’s draft plan closed 28 Feb. See detailed comments submitted by the Climate Mobilization Coalition of Montgomery County and by the Montgomery County chapter of the Sierra Club.
- 02/24/2021 at 7:00 pm : Presentation via Zoom by the County on the draft CAP
- The county executive’s press release
- Overview of recommendations
- List of all recommendations
- Montgomery County Civic Federation Newsletter January 2021 See especially the summary of the County’s draft Climate Action Plan beginning on page 8; the potential impact of climate change on agriculture in the county beginning on page 10; equity and communications challenges in the CAP beginning on page 13; and the impact of plastics and especially synthetic turf on our environment beginning in page 16.
STATE OF MARYLAND – REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Actions: Last fall, the Maryland Department of the Environment [MDE] released a comprehensive, economy-wide draft plan for a 44% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. According to MDE, the plan also will produce better air quality by reducing emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. And it will improve water quality through reductions in nitrogen pollution to the state’s waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.
In the Senate (SB926) and in the House the crossfiled bill (HB1425) would increase the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that the State must achieve by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
See also Senate Bill 414/House Bill 583, referred to as the “Climate Solutions Now” bill, which would also increase state greenhouse gas admissions and also address other environment related issues such as protections of fossil fuel workers.
Latest Update: The period for public comment on the state’s draft plan closed on April 21, 2020; staff have been finalizing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act report to be submitted to Governor Hogan and the State Legislature.
The General Assembly is at an early stage; it is too early to determine which environmental bills will be enacted and how they will relate to the governor’s plan.
- To keep up with the governor’s initiative see the MDE webpage
- For information about the bill Climate Solutions Now in the state legislature see this article from Maryland Matters.
- See also the article entitled “State of Maryland” in the PRA Fall 2020 newsletter beginning in the middle of the second column of page 8.
information added 03/07/2021
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions-Global efforts
Issue: Are greenhouse gas emissions being reduced globally?
Latest Update: According to the 2020 UN Report on Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the answer is no. This link includes a link to the full text of the report and links to the reports of previous years.
Quoting from the report,
“As in previous years, this report assesses the gap between estimated future global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if countries implement their climate mitigation pledges and the global emission levels from least-cost pathways that are aligned with achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. This difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the ‘emissions gap’.
“Are we on track to bridging the gap? Absolutely not.”
For somewhat more optimistic [but still realistic] opinion, see this op-ed piece by former Vice President Al Gore.
information added 01/03//2021
Solar Power in the Agricultural Reserve
Issue: To increase the use of renewable energy and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the County Council is considering a zoning text amendment [ZTA20-01]to allow solar power panels to be built in the county’s Agricultural Reserve [Ag Res]. At issue is the environmental benefit that will come from increased solar power generation versus the potential harm to the Ag Res.
Background: There are strong opinions about this proposal on both sides of the issue. The County Council held a town hall meeting to hear from citizens and it formed a Farm Solar Stakeholder Workgroup consisting of representatives of the various stakeholder groups to assist the Council in its deliberations on the proposed ZTA.
- 02/26/2021: The Council has approved two amendments, one requiring the Conditional Use process on proposals to build large scale solar panels in the Ag Res and one prohibiting the solar panels on soil types 1 and 2. Some argue that this will effectively prohibit solar in the Ag res.
- See also this opinion piece by State Delegate Kumar Barve, who chairs the MD House Committee on the Environment and Transportation
- Councilmember Riemer, an original sponsor of the ZTA is opposed to these amendments. Those who support these latest amendments have responded to Councilmember Riemer here.
- 01/26/2021: The Council is expected to take up ZTA20-01 on January 26
- 01/17/2021: Most recent statement by those opposed
- 01/17/2021: Most recent statement by those in favor
- 01/11/2021: PHED Committee staff report prior to committee work session
- See these links to read more about the views of those for the ZTA
- and the views against the ZTA.
- The position of the Montgomery County Food Council can be found here.
- The documents of the Work Group established by the County Council can be found here
information added 02/06/2021
Other County Environmental Efforts
Plastic Straw Ban: The Montgomery County Council has approved a bill phasing out the use of plastic straws at local restaurants beginning in May 2021. For more information see this article from the Bethesda Beat, December 2020.
information updated 01/03/2021