Testimony: FUTURE Act for Net Neutral Campuses

Today we are supporting the FUTURE Act, a bill lead by students from the MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition to move our state's public universities to reduce their climate pollution and reach net neutral climate emission. 

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Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.

Today we are supporting the FUTURE Act, a bill lead by students from the MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition to move our state's public universities to reduce their climate pollution and reach net neutral climate emission. 

A healthy climate is key to a healthy and safe future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. By implementing common sense climate solutions today, we can preserve a livable planet, clean air and clean water for generations to come. But to do that we have to end our reliance on fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. It makes good sense that our public institutions be ahead of the curve in meeting these reductions targets and we are pleased to support this bill to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.

 Hitting these goals starts by making smarter energy investments. We need to stop subsidizing fossil fuel infrastructure and make new choices that allow us to swiftly transition to renewable sources of energy. We should accelerate the transition to cleaner transportation technology, like electric cars and buses, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic pollutants that make us sick. A healthier climate, safer future is possible, but only if we act fast.  Below is our testimony on the bill.
You can also view the rally in support of the bill which features Del. Jared Solomon, Sen. Jim Rospape, UMD MaryPIRG student leader Reese Barrett, and Enviornment Maryland Director Kate Breimann.
 
HB 803 - Facilitating University Transformations by Unifying Reductions in Emissions (FUTURE) Act
Appropriations Committee
SB 835 - Facilitating University Transformations by Unifying Reductions in Emissions (FUTURE) Act
Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

Position: Favorable

Environment Maryland and Maryland PIRG are excited to support HB803/SB835 requiring public universities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Action on our climate cannot wait, and this is an important step in transitioning our state away from fossil fuels.

This bill will help give our children and grandchildren a safer, healthier future by pushing our state universities to go fossil fuel free, promoting carbon-free transportation, reducing power plant pollution and more.

The climate crisis looms large, and we need all hands on deck to fight it. Our public universities can play an important role in this fight. HB 803 will ensure that our universities are part of the climate solution. This will also show our students that our state and our public universities stand with them, and are committed to protecting the planet and their futures. 

This bill requires complete carbon neutrality by 2035, with an intermediate goal requiring carbon neutrality for purchased electricity and direct emissions in 2025. These are reasonable and achievable benchmarks for universities to hit, and in line with the reductions scientists say are necessary. With the additional requirement of a dedicated position to ensure climate and sustainability goals are being prioritized and met, universities will be well-equipped to achieve these goals. As our campuses and communities shift to carbon neutrality we should invest in energy efficiency and ensure our energy choices are clean, safe, and tread lightly on the planet. 

It is important to note that this bill is entirely student-led. Students asked for their universities to make this commitment and have worked tirelessly to organize around these goals on campuses across the state. Environment Maryland and Maryland PIRG proudly stand with Maryland’s public university students, and urge you to vote favorably on HB803/SB835. 

Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Recently, Emily helped win small donor public financing in Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George's County, and Baltimore City; the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses; and, the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms. Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working, and the Maryland Tobacco Free Kids Coalition. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.