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Maryland Climate Plan Passes Key Tests In UMD Studies

November 2, 2011

Improves Electric Reliability; Negligible Impact on Manufacturers

Maryland’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 meets a series of benchmark tests set by state lawmakers, concludes a new pair of studies by the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER). The findings should help clear the way for adoption of a full Climate Action Plan next year, the researchers say.

Maryland’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act ordered independent studies to make sure that its provisions won’t hurt the reliability of the state’s electricity supply or damage the manufacturing sector of the economy. The CIER studies give State plans a passing grade on these scores and project some upsides:

    Improves reliability of electric service for consumers and industry;
    No expected loss of jobs;
    May stimulate some “green” jobs;
    No economic harm to Maryland’s manufacturing sector.

“We can allay critics’ fears,” says University of Maryland School of Public Policy Professor Matthias Ruth, the study’s principal investigator and CIER director. “Our studies confirm that sound environmental responses to climate change do not have to come at the expense of Maryland’s economy, or put a crimp in the availability of electricity in the State. To the contrary, we see net benefits.”

These reports come as part of an ongoing effort by the state to assess the impact of Maryland’s developing Climate Action Plan (CAP) on the manufacturing sector and the wider state economy. Future studies are expected to assess manufacturing-specific and economy-wide impacts.

For example, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act requires an additional independent study by 2015, with oversight from an industry-represented task force, evaluate climate policy effects on manufacturing.

“We expect manufacturing in Maryland, and its economy as a whole, to be agile enough to make the necessary changes in technologies and business practices to absorb what has been portrayed as a policy-induced shock on the economy,” concludes one of the new University of Maryland reports. “At worst, the CAP will become an indistinguishable part of a larger and longer-term trend of declining manufacturing employment in the state. At best, the CAP will generate new business opportunities and jobs.”

New “green” jobs would likely grow out of the work involved in emissions reductions, the study says. It does not forecast a specific number, but suggests the economic and policy atmosphere is ripe for green job growth: “Maryland stands to benefit from new employment opportunities that will support mitigation policies associated with the state’s CAP. Maryland must ensure that it continues to capitalize on its talented and skilled workforce and that policies and strategies are in place to support growth and attract new green jobs.”

The Maryland Department of Environment commissioned the studies. It is charged with submitting a tentative Climate Action Plan (CAP) to Gov. O’Malley by the end of 2011.

“These reports provide essential information about the early effects of implementing Maryland’s Climate Action Plan,” says Sean Williamson, CIER researcher and report co-author. “They should remove potential roadblocks and advance the process.”

    Electric Report – Meeting Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals: Electrical Reliability Impacts from Maryland’s Climate Action Plan

    Manufacturing Report – Meeting Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals: Manufacturing Costs, Employment and Economic Effects from Maryland’s Climate Action Plan

In their analyses, the CIER researchers, along with colleagues from Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute and Johns Hopkins University Professor Benjamin F. Hobbs, analyzed the impact resulting from implementation of the following climate remediation programs, including:

    Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard: requires electricity suppliers to meet a portion of retail electricity sales from renewable energy sources;
    Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Maryland is one of 10 Northeast States in the program;
    EmPower Maryland: Energy conservation initiatives.

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