Accord on climate bill

January 16, 2009|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,

Environmentalists, manufacturers and union leaders have hammered out their differences over state climate-change legislation, clearing the way for a compromise measure after two years of contentious debate, Maryland's top environmental official said yesterday.

Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson said representatives of industry, labor and environmental groups sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley urging him to introduce the "delicate balance" to which they have agreed.

It would commit the state to reducing climate-warming pollution 25 percent by 2020, but it would not require any reductions from the state's manufacturing plants unless mandated by the federal government or by some multistate action. The agreement came after lengthy negotiations last fall among 40 to 45 parties, she said.

State climate legislation has failed the past two years in Annapolis. A bill pledging a 25 percent reduction cleared the Senate last year but died in a House committee, opposed by labor and manufacturing groups who feared it could cost jobs at the state's steel, cement and brick plants.

Officials would not release the draft bill, saying some points were still being hammered out. But, O'Malley said, "We are very close to achieving a compromise that would allow that to pass this year."

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