FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Colette Gelwicks (410) 313-2001
Councilmember Christiana Rigby Advances Major Climate Package for Howard County
Ellicott City, MD (January 4, 2023) – Howard County Councilmember Christiana Rigby has introduced major
climate and transportation legislation in Howard County, Maryland. This package of legislation is designed to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Howard County and position the county to achieve its carbon reduction
goals and timeline.
The legislative package contains two bills designed to address the two greatest causes of greenhouse gas
emissions in Howard County, which are buildings and transportation. Specifically, the proposed legislation will
move the County closer to requiring all new buildings to be all-electric and provide for renewed investment in
public transportation services.
In 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Climate Solutions Now Act, which sets statewide carbon
reduction goals for Maryland. Under this law, the State of Maryland must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
60% by 2031 and ultimately achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.
“We must act with urgency to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and comprehensively address climate
change at the local level,” said Councilmember Christiana Rigby. “To meet these goals, I am advancing a
legislative package that progresses critical climate and transportation initiatives in Howard County. Howard
County must continue to lead the way into a climate-resilient future.”
Clean New Buildings Climate Act
The Clean New Buildings Climate Act (CB05-2023) directs Howard County Government to develop all-electric
building standards for new construction and present those recommendations to the County Council in a report
by the end of 2023, in advance of Howard County’s next building code adoption cycle.
According to Howard County’s preliminary Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, buildings account for roughly 40%
of Howard County’s local greenhouse gas emissions, of which 11% of emissions are directly from on-site fuel
combustion in buildings. In order to meet the emission reduction goals set forth by the Climate Solutions Now
Act of 2022, Howard County must move toward all-electric buildings by phasing out the use of fossil fuels in new
In addition to the climate benefits, all-electric buildings also enhance the safety and health conditions for
residents who live and work in buildings. Numerous academic and medical studies have linked the use of natural
gas in buildings to higher rates of childhood asthma, poor air quality, and exposure to hazardous pollutants.
The Clean New Buildings Climate Act puts Howard County on the path to eliminate fossil fuel use in new
buildings. This legislation will not affect existing buildings in Howard County that rely on fossil fuels.
Transit Investment Act
The Transit Investment Act (CB04-2023) would create a dedicated fund for public transit operations in Howard
County’s operating budget and direct an estimated $500,000 to fixed-route transit operations annually in the
Howard County’s preliminary Climate Action and Resiliency Plan states that the transportation sector accounts
for approximately 55% of Howard County’s local greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are largely driven
by single-occupancy vehicle trips within the county. The Federal Transit Administration has identified that public
transportation produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than single-occupancy vehicles, making public
transportation an important tool in efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
Currently, Howard County offers public transportation options through the Regional Transportation Agency of
Central Maryland (RTA). The RTA operates primarily in Howard County and the City of Laurel, with limited
connections to Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties. While many Howard County residents
rely on the RTA to meet their daily transportation needs, many more residents are discouraged from using the
system because of limited route availability and frequency of service.
The Transit Investment Act seeks to address these issues by directing increased investment into Howard
County’s public transit services. The funds generated from this legislation must be used to make improvements
to fixed-route transit operations in Howard County, which may result in new RTA transit routes, better bus
frequency, and improvements to existing bus infrastructure and service.
The Clean New Buildings Climate Act (CB05-2023) and the Transit Investment Act (CB04-2023) were introduced at the
Council’s Legislative Session on January 3, 2023. Public testimony will be accepted at the Public Hearing on
January 17, 2022. The bills will be up for a vote at the Legislative Session on February 6, 2023. Individuals and
organizations can sign up to provide virtual or in-person testimony by visiting this website.
To read the pending legislation, please visit our Legislation Search Tool.