On April 4, 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law Senate Bill 323 (“SB 323”), the Reauthorization of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which requires Maryland to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2006 levels by 2030. Going forward, Maryland’s Department of the Environment (“MDE”) is directed to propose an initial plan to meet the reduction goals, hold workshops to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment, and then adopt a final plan by the end of 2019.

SB 323 enhances the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act that required a 25 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. According to a July 16, 2015, presentation by MDE, the 25 percent reduction requirement has been satisfied. The text of SB 323 states that the enhanced 40 percent reduction goal is driven by recommendations of Maryland’s Commission on Climate Change.

SB 323 requires MDE to work cooperatively with other governmental agencies, including the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Farm Bureau, and the Maryland Agricultural Commission, to develop plans, adopt regulations, and implement programs to reduce greenhouse gases in accordance with SB 323’s provisions. MDE will be required to submit reports every five years, starting in 2022, on its progress toward achieving the 40 percent reduction goal.

One notable provision in SB 323 requires that the final plan may not impose specific greenhouse gas reductions or significant costs on the manufacturing sector. Further, SB 323 requires an independent academic study of the impact on the reductions from the manufacturing sector to be overseen by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change.

A copy of SB 323 is available here.