The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.
HB 1106, as amended, alters the minimum required percentage of energy that must be derived from Tier 1 renewable sources in the State's renewable energy portfolio standard in specified years, and the renewable energy portfolio standard percentage derived from solar energy and Tier 1 renewable sources.
The Conference is taking a position to neither support nor oppose this legislation. Given the recent publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si), and that multiple components of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) are related to this legislation, the Conference is offering the following information as you consider this important issue.
Generally speaking, the Conference supports balanced measures to protect the environment without imposing undue burdens on the poor and nonprofits. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Catechism) teaches us that:
The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation (no. 2415).
In Laudato Si, Pope Francis notes that, We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard (no. 22). Maryland has made significant progress in reducing its reliance on carbon through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan and achieving the current trajectory of the renewable portfolio standard. However, more must be done. Legislation that promotes and increases the use of renewable energy must be strongly considered for its potential benefits to the earth and to the quality of life for current and future generations.
One of the seven pillars of Catholic Social Teaching (CST), Care for Creation, directly flows from the Catechism as all of us are reminded to be good stewards of the creation and to preserve natural resources for today’s society and future generations. Another component of CST, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, is also closely tied to Care for Creation in the proposed legislation because it is the poor and vulnerable who are most affected by changes in the environment, both globally and locally. Pope Francis said, “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si, no. 49).
With all of this in mind, the Conference encourages all plans to alter renewable energy portfolio standards to be framed in a comprehensive and integrative approach that considers how natural systems and social systems converge, and is not limited to only policies or technological changes.
The Conference appreciates your consideration of HB 1106.