More than a half-year after Gov. Larry Hogan declined to join other governors in supporting an international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he’s reversed course.
When President Donald Trump in June controversially withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, a global agreement between hundreds of countries to reduce their emissions, a dozen states formed the so-called U.S. Climate Alliance, agreeing to uphold the pact’s mission even if Trump wouldn’t. However, when activists and state pushed the governor to join, he declined.
But in a letter sent to Climate Alliance director Julie Cerqueira yesterday (published by The Sun), Hogan wrote, “I now intend to commit Maryland to participation in the U.S. Climate Alliance. Over the course of 2018, we will share our insights, experiences, and strategies in meeting and excelling beyond the requirements of the Paris climate accord and the Clean Power Plan.”
Maryland is already on track to cut its emissions by 25 percent by 2020, Hogan noted, and has set a goal to further cut them by 40 percent by 2030. By comparison, members of the alliance hope to lower their emissions by 24 to 29 percent of 2005 levels within the next eight years.
The governor’s office defended his record on clean energy policy last summer. In an email to Baltimore Fishbowl, a spokeswoman noted he signed into law the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which sets that more stringent target of a 40-percent cut by 2030, and that Maryland had already entered into regional partnerships focused on reducing emissions.
In his Wednesday letter, Hogan said Trump’s withdrawal decision “was not a decision I would have made,” and “that continues to be my position.”
At least two Dems competing to run against Hogan for governor this year criticized his decision as a political one.
Larry Hogan before Republicans lost big in 2017…
Larry Hogan after remembering he’s up for reelection in 2018… pic.twitter.com/o6XVISWUc1
— Kevin Kamenetz (@kevinkamenetz) January 10, 2018
This is a political calculation, pure and simple. If we are going to make a better Maryland, we need a Gov who leads without having to wait on a poll. As Gov, I will do what I have always done: be a leader on the issues because it's the right thing to do https://t.co/zHkdyCMe1I
— Rich Madaleno (@RichMadaleno) January 11, 2018
Mitch Jones, senior policy advocate for the nonprofit Food and Water Watch, told Baltimore Fishbowl Hogan’s decision to join the alliance of states months later “demonstrates primarily that Governor Hogan is able to read polls.”
“In an election year, he’s taking a move that he thinks will allow him to proclaim an environmental agenda without having to do anything that’s really aggressive in the way that we need the state to do,” he said. “We need much more from [Hogan’s administration] if Maryland’s gonna be a leader on fighting climate change.”
Maryland is now the 16th state to agree to join the U.S. Climate Alliance. Only two other Republican governors–Charlie Baker in Massachusetts and Vermont’s Phil Scott–have signed on. Nearby Virginia and Delaware both joined last summer.
This story has been updated with comment from Food and Water Watch.
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