Md. Senate Voted to Increase Scope of Commission on Climate Chan - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Senate Voted to Increase Scope of Commission on Climate Change

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Senators voted Tuesday to increase the scope and responsibilities of the state's Commission on Climate Change, but not before Democratic and Republican lawmakers debated science and fiction.

Senators voted for passage 32-14 along party lines, with one senator absent. The bill would put into law the requirements of a 2014 executive order signed by then-Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

The measure would expand the commission's membership and task it with developing a plan for the state to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The bill also would require the commission to assess the impact of climate change on agriculture and asks certain agencies to report on annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed legislation was the subject of intense debate last week that carried over on Tuesday, but Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery County, said it was time to stop arguing and start to act.

"If your house is on fire, you call the fire department," he said. "You don't call in theorists to tell you why the theory of combustion is wrong."

Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's County, told colleagues that the bill is not a study on climate change, but puts into law the requirements of O'Malley's executive order. At the time of the order, O'Malley said climate change was real and that Maryland was "vulnerable" to it.

"It's not a study to say is this a problem or not," Pinsky said. "Most people acknowledge it is a problem. This isn't to say let's start from ground zero."

Fierce debate continues around the world whether climate change is not only real, but caused by humans.

Current Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said he was "fine with continuing the commission."

"Obviously climate change is an important issue," he said in comments far from what Republican opponents of the bill said Tuesday.

"I have no problem with saying with an open mind we're going to look at this," said Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington County. "But if we're going to come at this and say it's a foregone conclusion, it's absolutely set and we're only going to look at this with that mind, then I'm going to have to vote against this. Because it is not settled. Science is not settled."

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

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