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Maryland passes law to reduce greenhouse emissions

April 04, 2009 04:25 IST
The Maryland House of Delegates has passed major legislation authored by Majority Leader Kumar Barve--the longest-serving Indian American legislator--to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The legislation that was approved after three years of effort by Barve, who kept re-introducing it in each session, also had the new Maryland Governor, Democrat Martin O-Malley as a lead sponsor, and required a reduction of 25 percent in gas emissions from the 2006 levels by 2020.

Barve, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County, the largest county in Maryland and home to the largest number of Indian Americans--the majority of whom are professionals and entrepreneurs, who head up the scores of information technology firms that line the I (interstate)-270 corridor--told rediff.com that "the passage is a culmination of three years of effort."

He said that "as part of the workgroup that helped craft this proposal, I was very pleased that so many representatives of labor, industry, science, and environmental organization testified in favor of the legislation."

Barve said that the "companion Senate bill has also passed the Senate," and predicted that as such "it seems likely that Maryland will again show its leadership in another area of environmental reform."

Asked what motivated him to introduce the legislation in the first place, and continue to re-introduce it, year after year, after it continued to be shot down by vested interests, Barve declared, "We can no longer treat the atmosphere like a big free garbage dump."

He pointed out that Maryland, with 3,100 miles of shoreline, "is directly threatened by rising sea levels and flooding caused by global warming."

Barve said that blessed with several high tech firms, including several owned and operated by Indian Americans, "we have the technological ability to clean up our air, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and move to a future free of foreign energy dependence. This measure goes a long way towards ensuring these goals," he said.

Barve lauded O'Malley's "aggressive support of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act," and described it as "vital in the crafting of this compromise," and added, "His sponsorship of this bill helped ensure passage."

He said the legislation that clearly states "statewide emissions," meaning all emissions, including from the manufacturing sector, "makes Maryland a leader on global warming, and puts us at the forefront of efforts to ward off the worst effects of global warming."

Barve also said that once implemented, the law would also "help create thousands of jobs in new and growing clean energy industries."

He also predicted that it would be catalytic in pushing for "strong action by the federal government, and also strong international action."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington,DC