Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County PIO
MoCo Council hears public testimony on Bill 13-22, which would make new buildings safer, healthier, and climate-friendly. If passed, the county would join the nation’s capital and other US cities electrifying new construction.
ROCKVILLE, MD — Dozens of climate activists rallied and danced today as the Montgomery County Council began public hearings on a trailblazing all-electric new construction bill that could establish the county as a statewide and national leader in mandating safer, healthier buildings that reduce carbon emissions. Demonstrators came out to support the passage of the newly introduced Comprehensive Building Decarbonization (Bill 13-22), which would require the County Executive to issue all-electric building standards for new construction and major renovations by 2024 (with some exceptions).
If the Council passes this bill, it will establish Montgomery County as the first jurisdiction in Maryland — and the third on the East Coast, including neighboring Washington, DC — to take action on climate and healthier homes by requiring electric appliances in newly constructed homes. Furnaces, gas stoves, and other fossil-gas appliances in homes and buildings create hazardous air emissions, filling homes with many of the same pollutants as come from tailpipes. Bill 13-22 would result in more homes running on highly-efficient electric appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves — which can run on 100% renewable energy and reduce energy costs.
The bill, sponsored by Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich and County Councilmember Hans Riemer, has been received with praise and gratitude from a broad coalition of Montgomery County-based organizations.
In his comments at today’s event Marc Elrich said, “There is not a single day where there is good news on climate change… It is a serious problem. Montgomery County has a role to play. We cannot by ourselves change the world but we do have the ability to exhibit leadership and give people hope with a path to move forward… This legislation requiring the electrification of buildings is a critical part of that process. Without the electrification of buildings, you cannot deal with climate change. There is no other way to go about it without taking fossil fuels out of the equation. So I’m excited we got this done! I was glad that Hans Riemer stood up with me to get this done. We hope the Council passes this bill. It is going to be landmark legislation.”
This afternoon, supporters of Bill 13-22 rallied outside of the Council Office Building in Rockville. Leaders from several activist groups made speeches and then the crowd got busy doing a lively “electric slide” dance to show support for building electrification.
Watch full recording of this event.
CAPTION: Above – Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich speaking outside of the County Office Building.
Below – Bill 13-22 supporters doing the “electric slide” dance in support of new building electrification.
Statements from activist leaders:
Mike Tidwell, executive director of the CCAN Action Fund and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said. “This bill is a common-sense measure to stop digging ourselves deeper into the climate-crisis hole. People in our county understand that we must stop constructing buildings that burn fossil fuels. The health of our families and our planet depend on it. We want to urge the Council to pass this bill, which will not only help us here in Montgomery County but also help set a new standard for Maryland and the rest of America.”
“As a community organizer, I have seen firsthand the dangers and health risks associated with fossil fuels within buildings,” said Alex Vazquez, CASA Montgomery County Lead Community Organizer. “In the past few years, I had worked directly with two working-class and immigrant communities in Montgomery County that shared the same fate when buildings exploded due to a gas leak causing multiple casualties and dozens of injuries. Bill 13-22 could not only have a favorable impact on racial equity and social justice in the county but save human lives at risk here in Montgomery County and across the country. Therefore, I ask the Council to issue a favorable report for Bill 13-22 without hesitation and bring us one step closer to carbon neutrality.”
Adam M. Roberts, executive director of Bethesda Green and a member of the Montgomery County Climate Action Plan Coalition, added, “The County’s Climate Action Plan appropriately recognizes the importance of addressing the impact of buildings on greenhouse gas emissions; the County Executive Elrich and Councilman Riemer deserve great praise for their leadership in requiring new building electrification. We’re reminded every day of the climate emergency under which we’re suffering – the thousands of Montgomery County residents represented by our coalition demand swift enactment of the Comprehensive Building Decarbonization bill.”
“There’s nothing ‘natural’ about it!” says Joelle Novey, Director of Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA). “Methane gas is a fossil fuel, and burning it anywhere, including in our kitchens, is bad news for all of us who breathe air and want to do our part to repair our climate. So many of our communities are already living our call to turn away from burning and towards a livable future, and we’re all in to fight for equitable building decarbonization in the county. We will continue to tell the truth about all the ways that methane is unnatural and unnecessary, and we will raise our voices in support of turning Montgomery County away from burning, starting with new construction.”
“We urge the Montgomery County Council to mandate that new construction in our County be all-electric, and not rely on natural gas or fuel oil, stated Shruti Bhatnagar, chair of the Montgomery County Sierra Club. “Buildings account for about half of the county’s greenhouse gas emissions, and to reduce these emissions Maryland must electrify the building sector and continue to increase electricity generation from solar, wind, and geothermal sources. By requiring that all-electric building standards be promulgated for new construction, Bill 13-22 would take an important step toward Montgomery County achieving the climate goals set forth in its 2017 Emergency Climate Mobilization resolution.”
For more information about progress on electrification building code initiatives in our region, please contact the CCAN Action Fund.
CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.