WASHINGTON (April 20, 2007) – Today, on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a compact officially entering Maryland into a cooperative effort by Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The bi-partisan nine-state agreement is part of a growing national trend of states leading the drive toward global warming action, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and is expected to be a model of emission cuts elsewhere.
“Gov. O’Malley is moving Maryland to the head of the line with a policy that will mean cleaner, more efficient energy technologies and lower energy bills for residents and businesses throughout the state,” said NRDC Climate Policy Specialist Elizabeth Martin-Perera. “We’ve got an opportunity to get ahead of the problem, and also to get ahead of the pack. Taking steps now will help protect our environment and the quality of life in Maryland while strengthening our state economy.”
Known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the pact also includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. By creating concrete limits on global warming emissions, the new policy will require electric utilities to invest more in energy savings for their customers, as well as safe, reliable, renewable energy technologies like wind and solar.
O’Malley made the announcement on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to bring attention to the threat of sea level rise in Maryland.
“This is an especially important challenge for Maryland. Sea level rise threatens the state’s 7,700 miles of shoreline and the Chesapeake’s majestic Smith and Kent Islands,” Martin-Perera said. “By taking action to cut emissions now Maryland is joining a select group of states that are setting the path for the rest of the country, and bringing the initiative to the doorstep of the nation’s capitol.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates average temperatures in Maryland could rise about 3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 if global warming continues unabated. Water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are already rising twice as fast as the global average rate of sea level rise, inundating many of the bay’s small islands. The EPA estimates that sea level in the bay could rise another 19 inches by 2100, threatening coastal habitat for the nearly 1.5 million shorebirds that pass through each spring, not to mention for the beach-goers who flock to the shores in the summer.
Warmer average temperatures will also mean more air pollution alert days during the summertime, bringing increased risk of asthma attacks and other dangerous respiratory ailments.