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Ben's Blog - Thoughts from Secretary Ben Grumbles

Coast to Coast

Two weeks ago, I was honored to represent Governor Hogan and the state of Maryland at two important environmental events in San Francisco — the Global Climate Action Summit and the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Water Policy conference. As Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Atlantic coast and water and energy leaders from around the world convened on the Pacific coast, our message was clear: Climate leadership must be bipartisan and bicoastal, multi-national and multi-dimensional, urgent and impactful.

Here are some highlights from my September 10-13 visit in the Golden Gate city by the Bay, 3100 miles west of the Chesapeake.

The NGA’s Water Policy Institute, co-chaired by Governor Hogan and California Governor Jerry Brown, met in San Francisco for two days. NGA staff, Sue Gander and Bevin Bucheister, put together an excellent series of roundtables and workshops for 32 governor’s offices and cabinet members to advance integrated, sustainable water policies.

Sessions included: innovative financing, such as environmental impact bonds to increase investment in green infrastructure; transforming the water sector through technology and innovation; the nexus among energy, water, and food; drought management; stormwater regulation; lead in drinking water; and contaminants of emerging concern like PFOA and PFOS chemicals associated with flame retardants, fire-fighting foam and stick-free coatings.

Ben Grumbles in San FranciscoAn estimated four thousand people from around the world participated in GCAS, the first ever global climate summit devoted solely to nonfederal actions to meet commitments of the the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The U.S. Climate Alliance, which includes Governor Hogan and the governors of 16 other states, figured prominently into the conference. Executive Director Julie Cerqueira, governors and environmental secretaries participated in probing sessions on mitigating greenhouse gases and increasing preparedness and resiliency. The Alliance also issued a report on 2018 accomplishments and commitments.

One of the highlights of the report was the commitment from Maryland and several other states to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, through state regulation. The Hogan Administration’s initiative to phase out HFCs was announced at a special event with cities, environmentalists, businesses and states to control fast acting “super pollutants” that pose great risk to our greenhouse gas reduction goals.

As Chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nine state partnership for capping power plant emissions and investing revenues from quarterly allowance auctions, I also got to give some positive messages to a high level Chinese delegation and to the International Emissions Trading Association. This month, RGGI, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, 41st auction, and cumulative total of $3 billion in auction proceeds to the states (and over $600 million specifically to Maryland) for energy conservation, clean energy and ratepayer assistance.

Virginia to join TCIMany states, cities, and environmental advocates shared strategies and actions for reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector. Maryland, represented by the Maryland Department of Transportation and MDE, is a very active member in the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which includes environmental and transportation agencies of over a dozen states and is facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center. I was particularly pleased to join Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, Matt Strickler, as he announced that Virginia would be joining the effort.

I also discussed with attendees the bipartisan efforts of the Hogan Administration and Maryland’s General Assembly on matters such as the state Climate Change Commission, Healthy Soils Initiative, and the first of its kind Climate Leadership Academy.

Water is life but it can also mean death and destruction with hurricanes, floods, and toxic waters. Maryland should continue to offer assistance to citizens and communities ravaged by Hurricane Florence and the aftermath of the estimated 8 trillion gallons of water that inundated the Carolinas. We should also keep a close eye on Florence’s impact on hog lagoons, coal ash ponds, septic systems, dams, and other potentially vulnerable facilities.

Lessons in resilience and sustainability are happening all around us, and throughout Maryland. For example, the state will be hosting a Maryland-Israel conference on water reuse and water security October 10 at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. Climate change is water change and one of smartest things our state can do is to learn from Israel on innovative technologies and policies on the safe recycling and reuse of water and the securing of water assets in a region at risk from terrorism and natural hazards.

Air, Land, Water – Did You Know?

MDE announces draft spending plan for Volkswagen settlement funds

The Maryland Department of the Environment, in conjunction with the Maryland Energy Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation, has developed a draft spending plan that would invest tens of millions of dollars in settlement money from the Volkswagen “defeat devices” case toward the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and the replacement of old, dirty diesel engines with clean diesel engines and other strategies to help improve air quality.
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Mid_Atlantic Food Recovery Summit - Eighth Annual Food DayRegister for the Food Recovery Summit

Join us Oct. 24 for the Mid-Atlantic Food Recovery Summit and 8th Annual Bowie State University Food Day. Be a part of the continuing conversation about reducing wasted food in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. The summit will bring together stakeholders for information and discussion, with the aim of increasing food recovery in the Mid-Atlantic. For details and registration, visit https://midatlanticfoodsummit.eventbrite.com


Green Registry WinnersMaryland Green Registry Leadership Awards winners honored

Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles joined members of the Maryland Green Registry and One Montgomery Green to present the 9th Annual Maryland Green Registry Leadership Awards and announce the annual membership results. Those results showed continued gains in reducing pollution, along with savings of more than $107 million through environmental practices.

The 2018 Leadership Award winners are: City of Bowie, Johns Hopkins University, Pearlstone Center, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Volvo Group Trucks.

“The organizations we are honoring are true leaders in showing the way toward an environmentally sustainable future and a thriving economy in Maryland,” said Secretary Grumbles. “The two go hand in hand – shown by the more than $107 million in annual savings for Green Registry members.”

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