ANNAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday rejected calls to symbolically adopt a global greenhouse reduction agreement, saying that Maryland’s goals are already more stringent and mandatory.
Hogan made the comments following a meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council and less than an hour after environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers rallied outside, calling on him to join dozens of other states and local governments in backing the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Hogan called Maryland a national leader in greenhouse gas emissions reductions with goals set above the Paris agreement.
“Our standards are twice as strong as the Paris accord and it’s not just a suggested goal, we’ve actually enacted it,” Hogan said. “At this point, we’re not sure what the intent of the group is or what they’re hoping to accomplish, but we’ve already accomplished what most of them need to try to shoot for and we would love to have a Maryland accord where we can get all of those other 10 or 13 governors to sit down and take a look at the best practices that we have here that enable us to have much tougher standards.”
In 2016, the legislature passed a bill that increased the state’s mandatory greenhouse gas reduction efforts from 25 percent by 2025 to 40 percent by 2030.
Trump announced earlier this month that the United States would withdraw from the voluntary 2015 agreement that calls on each signatory country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The goal for the United States was between 26 and 28 percent. The agreement also called on the country to provide $3 billion in aid for poor countries.
Hogan said he told Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt that he disagrees with Trump’s position on the accord and was “very concerned about the cut to the Chesapeake Bay.”
Environmental activists and lawmakers say they want Hogan to stand up the Republican president.
“When it comes to the bay, waterways, and the environment in general, Governor Hogan wishes to be perceived as mainstream,” said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George’s County. “Trump proposed cuts to the budget, as we know, a few months ago and the governor was silent. You could hear crickets.”
Pinsky was the lead sponsor of the 2016 bill that increased the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
In recent weeks, dozens of state and local government leaders have said they will adopt the Paris standards in a show of support for the agreement. Locally, Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced support. Kamenetz, a Democrat who is presumed to be running to challenge Hogan in 2018, called on the Republican governor to also express support.
Roughly a dozen states have agreed to sign onto an alliance of states, including Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. On Wednesday, Hawaii passed legislation to implement the goals of the accord at the state level though the legislation is said to lack specifics.
But some lawmakers, including Pinsky and two Montgomery County Democrats, Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. and Del. Eric Luedtke, called on Hogan to join the effort.
“We can’t hide behind that act,” Pinsky said of his 2016 legislation. “We need to pledge our state’s commitment to the Paris accords and the governor must sign on.”
Luedtke said supporting the agreement would not be symbolic.
“Maryland has to lead the way on climate change,” said Luedtke.
In Maryland, activists say they are prepared to make climate change an issue in the 2018 governor’s campaign.
“Silence is complicity and this governor cannot be silent and pretend he is trying to protect our environment and the bay,” said Bob Muehlenkamp, chair of Our Revolution Maryland. “He must distance himself from Trump or we’re going after him.”