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Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act

Policy Details

Policy Type: Policy
Jurisdiction: State
Status: Passed
Tags: Air Quality, Clean Energy, Gender Justice, JEDI, Labor/Workforce, Public Health

Policy Summary

Clean, renewable energy is a significant catalyst for economic growth and employment opportunities in Maryland. Despite this potential, most of Maryland’s electricity still comes from polluting fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The emissions from these sources have detrimental effects on public health, the economy, and the environment. Urgent action is needed to transition our energy sector away from fossil fuels towards a cleaner, sustainable energy economy.

On April 8, 2019, Maryland achieved a significant milestone in clean energy and climate policy with the Clean Energy Jobs Act passing by the General Assembly. The legislation received strong bipartisan support, securing veto-proof margins of 95-40 in the House and 31-15 in the Senate. This act will revolutionize Maryland’s energy landscape, promoting widespread adoption of rooftop and utility-scale solar power in the coming years.

The Act is supported by a diverse coalition including business leaders, public health experts, scientists, labor groups, clergy, social justice advocates, and environmentalists. This legislation aims to double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% renewable electricity by 2030, establish a comprehensive strategy to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2040, and implement this strategy starting in 2024.

However, a notable limitation of the legislation is its failure to close a contentious loophole that categorizes waste incineration as renewable energy, thereby granting it similar incentives as cleaner wind and solar technologies. Despite efforts in the Maryland Senate for two consecutive years to remove subsidies for incineration, the House Economic Matters Committee did not advance this policy change.

Overall, the passage of this bill marks a significant victory for Maryland, positioning the state as a leading advocate in combating climate change and advancing clean energy initiatives nationwide.

This summary was made  with support by the US Climate Alliance and the CCAN Action Fund.


Does the policy solution re-distribute power from mainstream institutions to impacted Black community?   

Yes, through its Workforce Provisions which include Project Labor Agreements, Community Benefit Agreement, Apprenticeship Utilization, Prevailing Wage and Worker Benefits, and Targeted Hire. It further can help improve air quality. In Baltimore City, the incidence of childhood asthma is twice the national average. Air pollution from fossil fuels disproportionately affects low-income communities and people of color, especially women, with 68% of African Americans and nearly two in five Latinos residing within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Doubling Maryland’s renewable electricity goal is projected to substantially enhance the state’s air quality, preventing 290 premature deaths and averting over 3,000 asthma attacks annually. In Maryland, as of 2019,  African Americans comprise of only 9.8% of the solar workforce, despite making up 30.8% of the state population. Women currently only represent 27% of the solar workforce. The Act aims to change that and have more Black women employed in the clean energy work force.

Does this policy address needs impacting diverse groups within Black communities (Black femmes, Black LGBTQ+ communities, Black immigrants, people in poverty, differently abled, people impacted by justice system)? If so, how?  

Yes. The bill also requires any approved clean energy projects to employ a community benefit agreement which requires the inclusion of workplace safety, prevailing wages, and new jobs, plus career training opportunities (targeted for local residents, veterans, women, and minorities), among other benefits for the community impacted by the project and its workers.

Does this policy provide more decision-making power at the hands of Black communities?  

There are no explicit mechanisms in the Clean Jobs Act that provide decision-making power specifically to Black communities regarding clean energy policies or investments. Decision-making largely remains within state regulatory bodies and institutions involved in energy policy implementation.

Does the policy undermine extractive economies like capitalism and restore community power around a local and regenerative economy/ primary production? 

While not explicit, by supporting the growth of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, it indirectly promotes a shift towards a more sustainable and potentially regenerative economy. Local job creation in clean energy sectors can contribute to community economic empowerment. Raising Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030 could support and retain nearly 20,000 jobs in the solar industry. Furthermore, Utilizing funds from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund, the act creates a Clean Energy Workforce Account to award grants for workforce development programs (pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training) in the clean energy industry. To qualify for workforce training and development grants, clean energy projects must initiate a project labor agreement.

Does the policy repair past harm and uphold civil and human rights, health and environmental protections?  

While, primarily focusing on environmental benefits rather than explicit repair of past harms or comprehensive rights protections, the Act does focus on workplace protections, job creation, workforce training for under-represented Black women in the clean energy workforce which seeks to mitigate historic and ongoing discrimination. The act will improve air quality, which will help Black families that live disproportionately close to polluting coal factories.

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