RELEASE: Maryland House passes Transportation and Climate Alignment Act

March 22, 2024

Bill Pugh, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Maryland House passes Transportation and Climate Alignment Act 

On Monday, the Maryland House of Delegates passed the Transportation and Climate Alignment Act (TCA), HB 836, introduced by Delegate Mark Edelson (46th District). This timely legislation will cut pollution from Maryland’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the transportation sector, while helping expand transportation options for residents and workers. The House passed the TCA by an overwhelming majority, and it will now be considered by the Senate. 

“I appreciate my House colleagues’ support of the TCA to help achieve Maryland’s landmark Climate Solutions Now Act goals. The TCA aligns transportation projects with the state’s targets to cut climate pollution 60% by 2031 and improves access to opportunity by providing more affordable and convenient options to reach jobs and daily activities. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass the TCA,” said Delegate Mark Edelson, bill sponsor in the House. 

“Transportation is Maryland’s largest source of climate pollution. We need transparency to show whether the state’s planned transportation investments are helping achieve our climate goal or making it harder and more expensive by putting more traffic on our roads. The bill would provide a flexible toolkit to address travel needs while ensuring that projects don’t lead to more pollution in our communities. I look forward to seeing the Transportation and Climate Alignment Act pass the finish line,” said Senator Clarence Lam (12th District) bill sponsor in the Senate. 

The TCA would require the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and regional transportation planning agencies to measure and set up a process to mitigate increases in climate pollution and vehicle travel caused by proposed highway expansion projects over $50 million. 

New federal programs provide funding for projects that reduce emissions and help shift travel to sustainable modes. The Carbon Reduction Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Grants under the Inflation Reduction Act are two examples of large new funding sources available for Maryland. 

Analysis by RMI shows the additional benefits of Maryland achieving a transportation system that requires less driving. In addition to the climate benefits, Maryland would see $3,081 of average household savings per family each year, 171 fewer crash fatalities on average per year, 1,420 fewer deaths on average per year from cleaner air and more walking and biking, and 97.7 terawatt hours of cumulative energy savings that reduce demand on the power grid.

“Accelerating electric vehicles is important, but only part of the solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation would give Maryland residents and workers more transportation choices and shorter travel distances for jobs and services, all of which reduce emissions and improve the air quality for all Marylanders. Reducing pollution from the transportation sector is a win-win for Maryland,” said Lindsey Mendelson of the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter. 

“People in the Baltimore region could see benefits like more frequent bus service, safer streets, new light rail vehicles or other clean ways to get around as a result of this legislation” said Brian O’Malley, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance.  

“Maryland’s residents and its economy depend on a robust public transportation network. Likewise, Maryland workers can save over $13,000 per year by taking public transit instead of driving. Under the TCA, state agencies would consider climate-friendly public transit as an integral component for many of Maryland’s road and highway projects. Our members prove every day that mass transit is both a necessary agenda item for the working class and the climate,” said Matt Girardi, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689. 

“With Maryland’s limited transportation funds, the TCA can help the state re-evaluate or mitigate the impacts from highway expansion projects that undermine the state’s investments to fight climate change and that increase traffic and sprawl. Decades of studies show that bigger highways don’t achieve their stated goals due to induced demand. On average each 1% increase in highway capacity in a community leads to a 1% increase in driving,” said Bill Pugh, Coalition for Smarter Growth.

19 individual organizations and the Transform Maryland Transportation Coalition are partnering to support the legislation. These are:

  • Transform Maryland Transportation Coalition
  • Sierra Club Maryland Chapter
  • Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
  • Ceres
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Climate Communications Coalition
  • Coalition for Smarter Growth
  • Downtown Residents Advocacy Network
  • Environment Maryland
  • Fix Maryland Rail 
  • Indivisible Howard County, MD 
  • League of Women Voters of Maryland
  • Maryland Catholics for Our Common Home
  • Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  • Maryland Public Interest Research Group
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Strong Towns Baltimore
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland
  • Washington Area Bicyclist Association

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