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Maryland Department of the Environment

Ben’s Blog: A big day for climate progress; green purchasing

Ben's Blog. Thoughts from Secretary Ben Grumbles


I will always remember February 19, 2021, as a day for climate hope, globally and locally. Not only was it the day the United States re-entered the historic Paris Climate Accord but also the day the Maryland Department of the Environment submitted its final 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan to Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly.

This bold, ambitious 279-page plan is the most detailed, number-crunched, and up-to-date of its kind of any state in the nation. Our climate team led a robust and inclusive collaboration over the last three years among MDE, other Hogan Administration departments and agencies, the independent Maryland Commission on Climate Change, governmental and nongovernmental agencies, scientific experts, citizens, and stakeholders.

Last year, the World Resources Institute ranked Maryland as the number one state in the country in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy. We are keeping that momentum going with this plan, which identifies more than 100 actions across all sectors of the economy and levels of government and underscores the urgency for real and lasting climate solutions.

The GGRA Plan meets and exceeds the goals required under current state law. The act calls for a reduction of emissions of 40% by 2030 (from 2006 levels), while pursuing more ambitious goals recommended by the independent, bipartisan Maryland Commission on Climate Change. The newly released GGRA Plan calls for a new goal: 50% reductions by 2030. The 2030 GGRA Plan also includes an even more aggressive stretch goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2045.

MDE and partner agencies are embracing new ways and concrete actions to reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation, transportation, building energy use, and natural gas infrastructure, and also increasing carbon capture, clean air, and healthy soil solutions with natural and working lands. MDE’s emissions analysis shows the implemented 2030 GGRA Plan will come very close to achieving a 50% reduction by 2030 without accounting for anticipated new federal government policies to reduce emissions.

Among the actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are investments in energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy solutions, clean transportation projects and widespread adoption of electric vehicles, planting more than seven million trees, and improved management of existing forests and farms to capture and contain more carbon in trees and soils.

The GGRA plan also supports new industries and technologies for homegrown clean energy and “green” jobs by encouraging the modernization of electricity, transportation and buildings sectors, the largest sources of GHG emissions in Maryland. MDE estimates as much as $5.3 billion in increased economic output in the state by 2030, and the creation of more than 6,000 jobs as a result of our initiatives.

The detailed plan also promotes actions to increase environmental and climate justice, recognizing that overburdened and underserved communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental pollution. In addition to mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, the plan will improve public health by reducing air pollutants that contribute to ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. It also will improve water quality through reductions in nitrogen pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes that threaten the state’s waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

One could say a plan is just a plan, but the state’s GGRA plan is not your ordinary plan and it’s supported by ongoing and future actions. It’s extraordinarily detailed and ambitious and will unquestionably help the state move forward with purpose and urgency to support our nationally acclaimed work on reducing climate pollution and increasing resiliency. And that is exactly what Marylanders expect and deserve.

• Air, Land, Water – Did You Know?

Green purchasing

As the Maryland Department of the Environment and other state agencies can attest, the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee has grown to be a national leader in environmentally preferable purchasing during its decade of existence.

How do you reduce utility expenses, keep plastic out of the environment, protect employees from exposure to harmful chemicals, support local businesses and mitigate the effects of climate change?  Through the power of green purchasing. 

Last year, the committee oversaw nearly $47.2 million in green purchases which resulted in more than $820,000 in savings and a reduction of 158,159 metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. A total of 44% of the spending was for solar and wind renewable energy to power state offices, 22% for electronic and information technology products, 14% for janitorial supplies and 10% for office supplies. The rapid growth of Maryland state government green purchasing last year resulted in  two awards for the state’s procurement of sustainable IT Technology and participation in two national forums to present on Maryland’s green purchasing successes.

The Maryland Department of General Services, which chairs and staffs the committee, offers guidelines that help direct you toward purchases that reduce overall environmental impacts and save you money.

The Maryland Department of the Environment also has a number of programs that go hand in hand with green purchasing to enhance the state’s sustainability in a number of important ways.

Nearly 600 businesses and other organizations have told their story through the Maryland Green Registry. These members are saving more than $78 million annually through sustainable practices that include environmental procurement, energy and water efficiency and waste reduction.  The program offers a public forum where both government and private sector organizations share practical and proven sustainability measures that save them money.

MDE also helps to coordinate the Hogan Administration’s statewide climate and greenhouse gas reduction programs, as well as the independent state climate change commission which includes public and private sector experts.  Green purchasing runs through it all, including the state’s just-released 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, with an ambitious goal of cutting emissions by almost 50% from 2006 levels by 2030.


• In the News

WBAL-TV: MDE testing wastewater to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks 

The Maryland Department of the Environment is using a unique way to help prevent future outbreaks of the coronavirus. .

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