ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday committed to joining a bipartisan coalition of states to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The U.S. Climate Alliance was formed in June after President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
In a letter Wednesday, the Republican governor wrote that he opposed the president’s decision then, and he opposes it now. Maryland’s clean air standards were already significantly stronger than the Paris climate accord and still are, Hogan wrote in a letter to the coalition’s executive director, Julie Cerqueira.
“Most importantly, the importance of aggressive but balanced action in states, communities, and businesses and the need for multi-state collaboration and international leadership on climate change grows stronger every day,” Hogan wrote.
Maryland is joining 14 states in the coalition. Two other Republican governors have joined, including Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
“In closing, as long as the U.S. Climate Alliance adds value, shows true bipartisanship, and avoids Washington D.C.’s politics-as-usual, corrosive tactics and distractions, we will gladly invest our time and energy with state colleagues for this cause,” Hogan wrote.
Maryland Democrats at the state and federal level have criticized the governor’s delay. Legislation in Annapolis directs Hogan to join the group and block the state from leaving it without the General Assembly’s OK.
In his letter, Hogan noted that Maryland is on track to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 under the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law, which he signed in 2016. He also writes that the state is working on meeting a comprehensive plan to meet a more ambitious goal of 40 percent by 2030.
Separately, the Hogan administration wrote to U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt this week expressing opposition to the potential repeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era plan to ratchet down planet-warming carbon emissions. Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment Ben Grumbles expressed his opposition to repealing the plan, unless it is replaced with a policy that is as “effective and enforceable as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”
“The Clean Power Plan is not perfect, and it creates some winners and losers,” Grumbles wrote. “Nonetheless, Maryland and other RGGI participating states have demonstrated that carefully designed carbon dioxide (CO2) emission limits on electricity generation can make states winners both environmentally and economically.”
The Clean Power Plan sought to reduce use of the dirtiest fossil fuel but has yet to take effect because of lawsuits filed by coal companies and conservative-leaning states.