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  August 25, 2017

Maryland Legislators Push Bill for 100% Renewables by 2035

TRNN speaks to lawmakers and activists about the new proposal, and the opposition it is likely to face
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Speaker 1: We are calling on our elected officials once again to stand up and protect our communities over the interests of fossil fuel companies. From the mountains of western Maryland to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, climate change will have devastating impacts on our communities unless we act now.

Shane Robinson: Us alone as a state in Maryland getting to 100% renewable energy is not gonna get us out of this crisis. Climate change will still happen. We're only 6 million people, a drop in the bucket in a country of over 300 million and a world with over 7 billion people, so what we do within these borders isn't gonna create a big change on its own, but what it'll do is create a model for other states to be able to follow.

Speaker 3: Maryland is uniquely a state that is tied to our water, our whole sense of ourselves is tied to the Chesapeake Bay and we can't just sit aside while the federal government fails to act on climate. We need, as Delegate Robinson said, to be a national leader. As the Trump Administration has failed to address so many vital national issues, it's become up to the states, to us, to step up.

Speaker 4: I grew up sailing on the Bay as a kid, and I loved the water, loved the park, Swallowtail Falls out in western Maryland, loved the outside, and we all know because we all have witnessed the flooding that has taken place and the changes in our climate that climate change is real and I am here with my colleagues and with other advocates to lend my support to 100% renewables by 2035.

Speaker 5: We have communities that cannot drink their water, that are swimming in a brine of arsenic, selenium, and coal waste, coal dumps. We have the Cove Point facility, creating a fracked-gas terminus to ship some of this evil overseas. These are not industries that are likely to regulate themselves. There has never been a time in the 14 years I've been a riverkeeper on the Patuxent, there's never been a time when there was not a lawsuit or some regulatory or enforcement action ongoing in communities frankly that aren't rich neighborhoods. That's not where we put the coal plants and the fracked plants and all that stuff. If there is an environmental justice nexus to the destruction of our ecosystem and our planet from coal and other fossil fuel profiteering, you'll find it on the Patuxent. You'll find it on the Potomac. You'll find it all over this state.

So you might think that setting a 100% renewables goal sounds pretty aggressive or hard to obtain, but the stakes are pretty high. How much selenium, cadmium, and arsenic do you want on your cornflakes? How much of it do you want in the vacuum cleaner bags of your home. We have communities with so much coal waste flying around in the air that it's pretty much in everything that people breathe, touch, and eat.

Speaker 6: Many people told us you couldn't possibly ban fracking. The industry was too powerful. There was too much money against you. There were people who were worried that you would miss out on jobs, but we prevailed. They told us we couldn't do it. We did it. And now Maryland is leading the way on another landmark effort to commit our state to adopt 100% clean, renewable energy portfolio and, as Delegate Robinson mentioned, burning garbage, not clean and renewable. Other people will say, "Well, you know, we can burn lumber." Not clean and renewable. We can do 110% clean renewable here in Maryland, set a standard, set an example, like we did on the fracking ban.

Speaker 7: I'm here to let you help you and the reinforce the fact that we are in a desperate situation. We're going to be walking around with respirators over our mouths and not able to see the sun very soon, so we keep our city and our state in the prayers that this act or this motion on the 100% renewable energy will be successful and our children and our children's children will be able to see a clear blue sky.

Mitch Jones: We believe that it is a requirement for not just Maryland but the whole country to get to 100% by 2035 and really to frontload that and do the heavy lifting of making that transition as quickly as possible. We have to act now and that's becoming more and more evident every day. You know, this isn't really a technical issue in terms of getting to 100% electricity as much as it's a political issue. What we need is the political will and that's why it's so great that we had delegates turn out today saying that they're gonna introduce this legislation, but it's gonna require Marylanders reaching out to their senators and to their delegates and to governor demanding that we get 100% renewable electricity by 2035 in order to make that possible because, again, this isn't an issue about technology, it's an issue about politics.

Speaker 9: Well we're not acting fast enough, I mean, this is a looming threat problem. I think most of the world community that's on the train believes that to be the case. I think America has dropped the ball. I think the current administration is antagonistic towards this cause, no real sense of exactly what the merits of that opposing position are.

Speaker 10: And another issue that's often raised is the jobs that currently exist in the fossil fuel sector. Is there a plan to transition fossil fuel sector jobs into renewable energy jobs? Or to create more renewable energy jobs?

Mitch Jones: Yes, we're looking at various ways to get money into job training programs so that folks can get trained to do the necessary work of installing solar panels, of erecting wind turbines, you know, with the announcement that we're gonna be having two large, off-shore wind projects here in Maryland.

Speaker 9: The biggest in the country-

Mitch Jones: The biggest in the country at moment approved, you know, there was also an announcement that there's gonna be a factory put in over that way aways to build turbines here. That's a huge step forward, because those are the jobs that we need to bring back to Maryland and to the United States. We need to have manufacturing jobs in this industry and we at Food and Water Watch pushed really hard to make sure those sorts of jobs aren't off-shore but that they're here. But another component of that is energy efficiency. You know, we need to reduce the amount of electricity that we use. We need to save people money by not having the electricity heat their home and have so much of that heat escape. Those jobs can't be off-shored and so we're also looking for ways to get more money into training people to do retro-fitting and other energy-efficiency jobs right here in Maryland.

Speaker 9: In order to win this fight, we have to be very skillful in how we organize the grassroots. The reason I say grassroots is because it's an army that doesn't rely on funding and financing. It's an army of people who are working out of love and not for money. It's an army of people who believe, and it's been true I think in every other cause movement, that when you engage the grassroots, whether it's in women's rights, civil rights, any kind of rights, environmental rights, you're actually tapping an untapped treasure house of ingenuity and skill and passion, and we're not gonna be able to afford to fund a lobby for this sort of thing. We have to rely on, in part or tap into, that huge well of power that comes from everyday citizens. That's the grassroots.


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