State News

News Item 1: Maryland Energy Administration Announces New Residential Energy Efficiency Programs

On Aug. 9, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced four new energy efficiency programs to save state residents both energy and money. The programs will focus on increasing the energy efficiency of Maryland homes and saving energy through the use of compact fluorescent lights.

"These new residential programs will help us reach our 'EmPOWER Maryland' goal to reduce per capita electricity consumption in Maryland 15 percent by the year 2015," said Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). "In our lighting campaign alone, if each Maryland resident changed just one light bulb to a compact fluorescent light (CFL) we would reduce electric bills throughout the state by almost $20 million per year."

MEA will coordinate the four newest programs under the EmPOWER Maryland initiative, which are:

Maryland Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Development Program -- Using a $250,000 grant from MEA, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will initiate an affordable housing program to increase the energy efficiency of homes receiving funding assistance from DHCD. New homes will have to meet the national EPA ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes energy saving target of 15 percent more energy efficient than required by code. Existing home rehabilitation projects will have to increase their energy efficiency levels by approximately 15 percent.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Existing Homes: Pilot in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties -- MEA will initiate a pilot program to increase existing home energy efficiency through a whole-house approach. The program will train local home remodeling contractors and heating and cooling contractors to evaluate homes using state-of-the-art equipment and recommend comprehensive improvements that will provide the highest energy savings at the lowest cost. This pilot will implement the national EPA and U.S. Department of Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program in two Maryland counties. Average energy savings in this program, based upon experience in other states, should be approximately 20 percent.

Energy Efficient Lighting: Change A Light, Change the World -- On Oct. 3, O'Malley will kick off a statewide effort with Maryland residents, colleges, schools, businesses and utilities to promote the Change a Light, Change the World Campaign initiated by the federal energy and environmental agencies. The national campaign encourages each consumer to change at least one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent light bulb. The Maryland campaign will encourage residents to add four CFLs to their homes to save even more energy than the national program. If every Maryland home replaced four existing light bulbs with CFLs, residential electricity consumption in Maryland would decrease by two percent and equate to saving $81 million, officials said.

Energy Efficient Lighting for DHR (Maryland Department of Human Resources),Office of Home Energy Programs Participants -- MEA, in coordination with the Maryland Department of Human Resources' Office of Home Energy Programs, will provide 100,000 CFLs to participants in the department's energy assistance programs. Low-income families are particularly hard hit by increases in energy prices and this effort will help families cut their lighting bills.

addition to these efforts, MEA was directed by the governor at the governor's Energy Summit on July 25 to develop a strategic energy plan to help Maryland take control of our energy future.

additional information, contact MEA at http://www.energy.state.md.us.

News Item 2: New York Governor Signs Legislation Promoting Green Vehicles

On Aug. 3, Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) announced that he has signed legislation designed to increase consumer awareness about greenhouse gas emissions. This law requires that automobile manufacturers affix a "global warming index" sticker to new cars and passenger trucks beginning in the 2010 model year, detailing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. New York is the second state in the nation to pass this innovative environmental legislation.

"Global warming is one of the most serious environmental problems of our generation," Spitzer said. "Every level of government, every business and every consumer can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This new legislation will help make the public aware of vehicle emission levels so that they can make informed choices that will help reduce greenhouse gas pollution."

New York State Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis applauded this legislation saying the label would be a valuable tool for consumers, similar to a car's miles-per-gallon rating: "This legislation will promote environmental consumerism by providing user-friendly information to enable buyers to take into consideration the impact a vehicle's emissions have on air quality and climate change."

The requirement takes effect beginning with 2010 models, and applies to passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks with a gross weight of 8,500 pounds or less. Each sticker will include an index that:

  • Compares the emissions of global warming gases from the vehicle with the average projected emissions from all vehicles of the same model year.
  • Identifies the vehicle model within its class with the lowest emissions of that model year.

The index would be based on emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to warming temperatures worldwide, in addition to methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

California adopted similar regulations earlier this year, which will become effective for the 2009 model year. New York will likely model its labeling standards based on those set by California. By having parallel standards, automobile manufacturers would not be required to develop different stickers for different states and consumer groups would be able to provide uniform information to car buyers.

Earlier this year, Spitzer announced his "15 by 15" plan to reduce electricity use by 15 percent from forecasted levels by the year 2015 through new energy efficiency programs intended to reduce energy bills, and greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution.

For more information, contact the governor's office at http://www.ny.gov/governor.

News Item 3: Connecticut Governor Signs Brownfields Bill

On Aug. 7, Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) signed into law a bill that expands the state's capacity to clean up and redevelop brownfields.

The governor signed "An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Brownfields Task Force" at the former Latex Foam site which was leveled by a fire six years ago but has been redeveloped into a 150,000 thousand-square-foot Target store. The store is expected to provide long-term economic support to the area and employ about 150 people.

"This law expands the state's capacity to clean up and redevelop contaminated property," Rell said. "This law epitomizes smart or responsible growth. It is the foundation of our anti-sprawl efforts. It makes far more economic and environmental sense to clean up and reuse an old factory site or old store than to lose acres of virgin farmland or open space to development. Without laws like this one that empower property owners and provide an incentive for them to clean up dormant properties, our responsible growth efforts would be all for naught."

The law gives property owners more options for voluntarily cleaning up brownfield sites. It establishes a new program to finance these clean up activities and authorizes the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development to administer the program. The law also allows the Connecticut Development Authority to guarantee bank loans and issue bonds on behalf of towns for redeveloping brownfields.

In addition, the law allows tax assessors to reduce the value of contaminated business property when owners agree to remediate the property. It broadens the conditions under which the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner can enter into covenants not to sue with parties that agree to remediate contaminated sites according to DEP standards. It establishes a pilot program for identifying brownfields in areas where the Office of Policy and Management recommends targeting state development dollars. It also reestablishes the brownfields task force and requires it to recommend additional brownfield remediation options to the legislature by Feb. 1, 2008.

For more information, contact the governor's office at http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/site/default.asp.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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