Climate Commission Changes Gain Senate Approval, Now Head to House

Katelyn Newman

ANNAPOLIS--The Maryland Senate voted favorably Tuesday on a bill to expand and provide guidelines for membership and subdivisions of the Climate Change Commission, and now it heads to the House of Delegates for approval.

The bill, sponsored by state Senator Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, updates the established Climate Change Commission to include four more working groups and a new science-based sea-level rise projections report from University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science by 2018.

The Maryland Department of State and Department of Natural Resources would jointly staff the commission, according to Pinsky’s bill, and it would consist of 26 members. The current commission’s goal is to address the causes and results of climate change in the state, and from this analysis develop new benchmarks and timetables to address these issues.

The commission’s four new working groups will focus on: science and technical issues; greenhouse gas mitigation; mitigation, adaptation and response to consequences of climate change; and education, communication and outreach.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley established the Commission on Climate Change in 2007 and a 2011 plan to reach an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse-gas emission by 2050 through executive orders.

Pinsky’s bill would further expand the commission’s membership and require state agencies and other state groups to review existing programs, recommend regulatory or other changes to support the state’s greenhouse gas reduction efforts, and report on short- and long-term goals toward climate change mitigation, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

The law, if passed through the House and by the governor, would take effect on June 1, 2015.

Delegate Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County, is sponsoring a similar bill cross-filed in the House. Stein’s bill differs from Pinsky’s primarily in the selection of appointees for the commission, said Stein’s legislative director Margie Brassil.

Brassil said that Stein’s corresponding bill is expected to be heard in the environment subcommittee of the state’s House Environment and Transportation committee Wednesday, and will most likely be voted upon on Friday by committee members.

There was no opposition to the House bill at its first hearing in the committee, Brassil said, and it received no written opposition. She said Delegate Stein believes the bill will easily pass through the committee.

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