More Effort Urged to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Maryland could curb greenhouse gas emissions believed to cause global warming by more than 20 percent by encouraging less driving, more energy-efficient buildings and household appliances, and greater use of biofuels, a coalition of environmental groups said yesterday.

They said their roadmap for addressing global warming has particular resonance in Maryland, a state defined by its shoreline. The coast of the Chesapeake Bay is vulnerable to rising sea levels, environmentalists say. They urged Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to enact clean-energy policies soon, in the absence of federal action.

"We will be affected more and more if nothing is done," said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's), who plans to revive a bill requiring targeted reductions in carbon dioxide emissions that failed in the General Assembly this year. O'Malley created the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, which is scheduled to convene this month, and he will consider its recommendations.

The legislature has taken steps to reduce air pollution, approving bills to limit carbon dioxide emissions from cars and coal-fired power plants and to increase the contributions of wind energy and solar power to state energy. But leaders of Environment Maryland, which led the global warming study, said yesterday that the state can do more, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide -- the primary culprit in greenhouse gases -- 23 percent by 2020.

"We believe the state should commit to these from the start rather than taking these policies piecemeal," said Brad Heavner, the group's state director.

Among the suggestions to further curb greenhouse gases are updating codes to require new buildings to consume less energy and increasing the state's production of renewable energy. Also, the state should phase in the use of fuel from natural resources such as soybeans and switch grass, the group said.

Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson agreed that climate change is a pressing challenge and "the direction and place where science and public policy is now pointing." She stressed the "need to set firm targets" for reducing emissions; however, she did not commit to specific strategies.

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