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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Bill would require fossil fuel companies to help pay for climate impacts

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Monday, March 11, 2024   

Advocates are asking Maryland lawmakers to establish a superfund to help hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the costs of climate change.

Both houses of the General Assembly are debating the "Responding to Emergency Needs from Extreme Weather Act." It would establish a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Fund, targeting the 40 largest companies extracting or refining gas and oil with a fee totaling $9 billion over 10 years.

Sen. Katie Fry Hester, D-Howard, citing the expense of infrastructure upgrades, said the state needs help paying these costs.

"Unfortunately, it has become the responsibility of the Maryland taxpayer to foot the bill for the costs of climate mitigation, adaptation and recovery measures," Hester pointed out. "Not anymore. It's time to ensure that the polluters pay."

The bill would enable the Department of the Environment to use the fund for stormwater and sewer system improvements, bridges and rail infrastructure, flood recovery, clean energy projects and more. In a recent Senate committee hearing, some lawmakers expressed concern about the targeted businesses passing the cost on to consumers.

The Center for Climate Integrity estimated by 2040, Maryland will have to spend more than $27 billion to protect against the possibility of moderate sea-level rise.

Jamie DeMarco, Maryland director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said climate change mitigation is already costing the state hundreds of millions.

"Howard County is spending $228 million to bore an 18-foot diameter drainage tunnel through granite bedrock to prevent flooding," DeMarco noted. "It's the biggest capital expenditure in the history of the county. Annapolis is spending $50 million renovating their dock from nuisance flooding. The same thing is happening everywhere across the state."

Recent polling by Data for Progress found 73% of likely voters support assessing a fee on big oil and gas companies to pay part of the cost of climate change mitigation. Either version of the measure needs to pass one chamber by March 18 in order to have a future in the current session.

Disclosure: The Chesapeake Climate Action Network contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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