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County Executive Ball Announces Major Commitments to Climate Action

County Executive Ball Announces Major Commitments to Climate Action

February 26, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

COLUMBIA – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today made a series of environmental commitments that will make the County a leader in environmental sustainability, reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change. The news conference was held at the County’s Robinson Nature Center, a LEED Platinum facility operated by Howard County Recreation and Parks. To see video from this event, please click here. To access photos of this event, please click here

At this event, Ball announced:

  • Howard County will be a signatory of the “We Are Still In” declaration, a promise to world leaders that Americans will not retreat from the global pact to reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change.
  • Howard County is the first county in the nation to formally accept the United States Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands Challenge, which calls on jurisdictions to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration. 
  • For its strong commitment to climate action, Howard County has been named a “Maryland Smart Energy Community” by the Maryland Energy Administration. 
  • Expansion of the curbside food scraps collections area that will include almost 10,000 additional homes to the program.

“It will be on all of us to continue to lead by example in the fight against climate change,” said Ball. “As your County Executive, I pledge bold leadership to make Howard County a safe and healthy place for generations to come. The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) reports that our state is already seeing the effects of a rapidly changing climate, posing a threat to the health, security, and prosperity of our communities. From these threats, there is also opportunity – opportunity to support a green economy in Howard County where our residents receive training and gain critical skills that enable them to be successful in the green jobs of the future.”   

“Not only does Calvin Ball clearly recognize the reality of climate change and the very real challenges it presents, he is committed to taking action,” said Tim Lattimer, Chair of the Columbia Association Climate Change & Sustainability Advisory Committee. “I am grateful that we now have leadership that understands how we can grow our economy, create jobs, and protect the environment and quality of life for all of Howard County, all at the same time.”

The Paris Agreement, now signed by more than 180 countries, is a landmark climate agreement calling for global action, with a specific goal of keeping temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius. In 2017, President Trump indicated his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Almost immediately, a bi-partisan coalition of mayors, governors, and business leaders declared they were “still in” – steadfast in their commitment to the global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the effects of climate change. 

Howard County has signed on to the declaration and will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of County government operations 45 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050. This will be accomplished by reducing County energy use, lowering its fuel consumption, and increasing renewable energy generation on County property. To learn more, visit https://www.wearestillin.com/organization/howard-county-md

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of leaders committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. As part of its “We Are Still In” pledge, Howard County will be the first county in the nation to accept their Natural and Working Lands Challenge. That challenge calls on jurisdictions to commit to taking actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, and other land, and to work these strategies into greenhouse gas mitigation plans by 2020. 

Natural and agricultural lands already sequester carbon, and through restoration efforts carbon storage can be increased in forests, farms, and other lands in Howard County, while improving wildlife habitat and water quality. To learn more about the challenge, visit https://www.usclimatealliance.org/nwlchallenge

Because of its strong commitment to climate action, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has designated Howard County one of Maryland’s Smart Energy Communities and provided an initial grant of $75,000 to improve the efficiency of its government operations. Ball announced that, given the urgency of this issue, Howard County will commit to all MEA policy goals by increasing renewable energy use, reducing fuel consumption, and reducing overall energy use. 

Additionally, Ball committed to reduce land waste by announcing the expansion of the curbside food scraps collections area that will include almost 10,000 additional homes to the program. These residents will receive a postcard with signup information about the service which is set to begin on April 1st. The expanded area being served will include parts of the Villages of Owen Brown and Oakland Mills.

By 2024, Howard County is committing to:

  • Receive 20 percent of its power for local government operations from renewable sources, especially solar power.
  • Reduce petroleum fuel consumption in its fleet by 20 percent, by improving the average fuel economy of its fleet, reducing idling, and increasing the number of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Cut energy use in its facilities by 25 percent, well beyond the required 15 percent reduction, making Howard County the first jurisdiction to go beyond state requirements.

County Executive Ball also announced specific initiatives to move toward these important goals:

  • Within the next four years, Howard County will convert nearly 8,000 streetlights to energy-efficient, long-lasting LED lights.
  • By the end of 2019, the County will implement a routine, systematic, and detailed investigation of energy use at all County buildings to identify and address energy inefficiencies.
  • The County plans to increase the target efficiency of the new circuit courthouse from LEED Silver to Gold status. 
  • Starting in 2019, Howard County will be the first jurisdiction in Maryland to require new home construction to be “EV-Ready,” by including infrastructure for plug in electric vehicles. 
  • Howard County is the first in the nation to require new apartment, townhome, and condominium buildings to provide electric vehicle charging stations. 
  • Howard County is actively pursuing installation of 25 new, electric vehicle charging stations at libraries, parks, community centers, senior centers, and County offices over the next five years.  
  • Howard County is committed to making communities more resilient to climate change through its land use and planning and disaster risk management efforts

 

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