The Maryland Senate has joined the House of Delegates this week in overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that will accelerate the timeline for Maryland’s adoption of renewable energy sources.
On Tuesday, the General Assembly voted 88-51 to override Hogan’s 2016 veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which both houses passed last year. Today, the Senate followed suit, voting 32-13 to override the veto.
The law, which has now taken effect in Maryland, requires utility companies to obtain 25 percent or more of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, overwriting the old requirement of 20 percent by 2022. It also incentivizes greenhouse emissions cuts and adoption of renewable energy sources.
Democratic legislators, many of whom approved the measure last year and sent it to Hogan’s desk, say it will force the state to buy into its renewable energy sector, creating more jobs and reducing pollution in the process.
Hogan vetoed the measure in May of last year. He has argued it amounts to “a sunshine and wind tax” that will raise Marylanders’ electricity bills. “’It’s charging people every month on their bill to force people to buy expensive solar and wind energy,” the governor said at an early January press conference where he outlined his legislative priorities for the year.
An independent analysis of the bill by the state’s Department of Legislative Services last year concluded it could raise Marylanders’ monthly residential electricity bill payments by up to $1.45 on average by 2024.
Responding to the Senate vote, his spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse, said in a statement, “These Senators are now faced with the unenviable task of explaining to their friends, neighbors, and constituents why they voted to increase the price of energy in Maryland. Unfortunately, our hardworking citizens will now be forced to foot the bill for an unnecessary addition to a program that already exists and one that subsidizes out-of-state companies.”
She said Hogan’s administration has supported and proposed “sensible efforts” to promote renewable energy that “will actually create green jobs for Maryland workers.”
Environmental groups cheered the full veto override. “Today, the Maryland Senate put the final touches on a clean energy bill of true national significance,” said Chesapeake Climate Action Network director Mike Tidwell in a statement. He added that Hogan “thought he could confuse state voters by siding with polluters over good-paying solar and wind jobs. Today, the people of Maryland have spoken and Hogan should listen.”
The Maryland Climate Coalition has argued that by speeding up the adoption of renewable energy sources, Maryland can also raise its air quality and in turn improve public health, which the coalition says would prevent dozens of premature deaths per year and boost economic growth by as much as $200 million.
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