- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates voted Tuesday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill to boost the state’s renewable energy standards, cheered by environmentalists for casting one of the first state legislative votes against the “anti-environmental” agenda of President Donald Trump.

The Democrat-controlled House voted 88-51 for the override, three votes more than the three-fifths majority needed. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Republican governor’s veto Thursday. Last year, the Senate passed the bill 32-14, a margin above the 29 votes needed.

The measure would increase requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020. The state’s renewable energy standard goal now is 20 percent by 2022.

Mike Tidwell, director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, praised the vote, calling it a rejection of “the anti-environmental agendas of both Larry Hogan and Donald Trump.”

“This is one of the first state legislative votes nationwide to show that states will fight back when leaders like Hogan and the climate deniers in Washington attempt to thwart progress on clean-energy jobs and global warming pollution,” Tidwell said.

Hogan has called it a “sunshine and wind tax.” Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor has and will continue to support sensible efforts to encourage the use and growth of all forms of renewable energy, but that this measure didn’t do that.

“For years, Marylanders have made it clear that they are sick and tired of these kinds of rate increases - hopefully our good senators won’t turn a deaf ear to their calls like their colleagues in the House just did,” she said.

Lawmakers who supported the bill say it will help the environment and increase jobs in renewable energy.

Del. Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, said companies are now looking to invest in the former Sparrows Point steel mill to manufacture components for wind energy.

“We should be looking for ways to attract these investments, not chase them out with a veto that says Maryland is not open for clean energy business,” Glenn said.

But opponents say the bill will pass costs along to consumers via their electric bills. Del. Mary Beth Carozza, R-Worcester, said Maryland residents shouldn’t be forced to subsidize expensive solar and wind energy.

Critics say it could end up costing ratepayers tens of millions of dollars a year overall by the year 2020.

“This is just another tax we’re forced to pay, and we already pay too much,” Carozza said during the House debate.

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