A father-son duo began a nearly 400-mile bike ride across Maryland on Thursday morning to build public support for the General Assembly to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of an energy bill when legislators return to session in January.
Activist Vincent DeMarco, 59, and his son, Jamie, 23, started in Ocean City, where scores of politicians are gathered for the summer conference of the Maryland Association of Counties. They are scheduled to arrive in Deep Creek Lake on Monday.
Along the way, the pair will hold events in Salisbury, Baltimore and Frederick with supporters of the bill, which would require the state to obtain 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Some of the bill’s supporters will don helmets and bike a few miles in what has been dubbed “Ride for the Override.”
DeMarco, who was disappointed when Hogan (R) vetoed the measure, said he came up with the idea with his son when they were thinking of a way to ensure that the bill becomes law so Hogan will see the widespread support for climate measures.
“All of us who work on public health issues know that we must do all we can to protect our planet from climate change,” said DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative. “We urge Governor Hogan to reconsider his opposition to measures such as this, which can do so much to make sure our planet is safe and healthy.”
The vetoed energy bill would have expanded the use of solar and wind power by increasing the current goal for the state to obtain 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.
When Hogan vetoed the measure, he said the bill would impose a “tax increase of between $49 million and $196 million by 2020” to pay for the program’s goals.
Jamie DeMarco, who took a semester off from college to work full time with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network because he wants “a habitable planet,” said the governor’s veto is bad for the economy and the environment.
Proponents of the bill say that by building incentives for roughly 1,300 megawatts of new, clean energy, the bill would support nearly 1,000 additional high-paying jobs during construction and reduce climate pollution by the equivalent of taking 563,000 passenger vehicles off the road every year.
The General Assembly passed the bill with a veto-proof majority in both chambers, but Mike Tidwell, the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said his group and others are not taking an override for granted and want to highlight the governor’s veto of what they say is a widely supported measure.