All Americans should be able to breathe clean air. But pollution from power plants and vehicles puts the health of our nation’s children and families at risk. Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is one of the most harmful and one of the most pervasive air pollutants.
The Northeast faces two fundamental and intertwined challenges: fossil fuel dependence and pollution from fossil fuels. Our dependence on coal, oil, and gas imposes economic costs, pollutes our air and water, and harms public health.
Maryland took a bold step toward reducing our contribution to global warming and breaking our dependence on fossil fuels with the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) in 2009. The law set an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing Maryland’s emissions of global warming pollution by 25 percent below the 2006 level by 2020.
Rapidly rising gas prices across the country are shining a spotlight on the dire consequences of American dependence on oil. Our continued use of oil puts our environment, our health, and our national security at risk, and with prices across the country exceeding $4 per gallon, it is putting an incredible burden on our economy and on American families. Whether we consider these prices at the pump, the scars left by the oil spill disaster in the Gulf, the billion dollars that we send overseas every day, or the nearly 2 billion metric tons of global warming pollution that our oil consumption pumps into the air each year 1, it has become clear that we must break our dependence on oil.
For more than 26 years, states in the Chesapeake Bay region have attempted to clean up the Bay, but it continues to choke on a lethal overdose of pollution. In order to achieve a clean, sustainable Bay, states in the Bay watershed will have to reduce nitrogen levels in Bay waters another 30 percent and reduce phosphorus by an additional 8 percent—in spite of a projected population increase of 30 percent by the year 2030. Reductions of that magnitude will only be possible if governments target all the watershed’s sources of nutrient pollution.