Last week, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters awarded Governor Martin O'Malley the highest grade a governor has ever received from the organization - an A-minus. Their choice was well-deserved. Since taking office 18 months ago, O'Malley has pushed an impressive environmental agenda from reducing automobile emissions to increasing renewable energy sources.
Governor O'Malley's latest success involves Maryland's solar and geothermal grant program. Under his leadership, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has awarded more than half a million dollars to Maryland residents to help offset the installation cost of renewable energy systems to be used in homes or small businesses. This funding is helping more and more Maryland residents to switch to renewable energy, keeping money in their pockets and pollution out of the environment.
"Maryland continues to be a leader in investing in cleaner, more renewable energies and it is no surprise that this grant money has been awarded just weeks after becoming available," said Governor O'Malley. "The residential solar and geothermal grant program has helped hundreds of Maryland families contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable economy, while also helping to reduce household energy costs."
According to the legislation that O'Malley guided through the state legislature in April, Maryland residents may receive up to $16,000 in grants for photovoltaic solar arrays, solar water heaters and geothermal systems. The MEA also still has funding available for its Windswept program, which provides up to $10,000 for Maryland residents to purchase small-scale wind turbines for household use.
The governor is also pushing aggressively to curb emissions from vehicles on the road. In mid-July, Governor O'Malley directed the Maryland Transit Administration to purchase hybrid-electric powered buses to replace retiring diesel powered buses. This plan will put up to 500 hybrid-electric buses on Maryland roads by 2014. Moreover, the governor plans to purchase another 100 hybrid buses in the fall.
In announcing the transition, Gov. O'Malley said, "we are taking another step forward to create a sustainable environment in Maryland and provide better air quality for our children and future generations. By directing MTA to purchase only hybrids, we will transition to a fleet where the buses that serve the Baltimore region will be cleaner, quieter, more fuel efficient and more reliable."
Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari concurred, saying that, "Governor O'Malley's decision sends a clear message that Maryland is serious about protecting our environment. Transportation must be a full partner in Maryland's effort to improve air quality, protect the Bay and preserve our quality of life. The move toward a hybrid bus fleet demonstrates the MTA embraces that responsibility."
In just 18 months, Governor O'Malley has made significant strides in creating a sustainable environment for Maryland and is well deserving of this recent high praise.