The current administration's reckless policies to roll back environmental regulations has threatened our air, water, and land. We must protect our clean air and water resources and our natural habitats and agricultural land.
Clean Air and Water
As a representative of Maryland, a state in which bicyclists are a primary focus in our road laws, with all new road construction required to account for bicycle traffic, I understand the importance of clean air and water to our communities. I myself used to bicycle to Social Security's campus in Woodlawn when I worked there, and on my longer commute I now ride a motorcycle in the summer—unfortunately not the electric Zero SR I want.
I am committed to policies which improve the quality of our air and water resources. These range from tightening emissions standards for combustion-driven motorcycles to encouraging the development of solar and wind energy production in our state and across the nation.
I will encourage legislation allowing direct sales of fully-electric vehicles with high charging rates and range where existing dealers do not move a large portion of their stock in fully-electric vehicles, allowing companies like GM, Ford, Tesla, and Zero Motorcycles to aggressively market those models when their own dealers haven't embraced an electric vehicle strategy or their electric vehicles hold a low share of the vehicle market.
We need a multi-state and Federal strategy to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Such efforts already exist, although this administration and Congress are less-interested in protecting our natural resources than their predecessors.
The Bay provides both a natural and economic resource, representing billions of dollars of GDP in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Deleware. It provides the basis for our seafood industry, tourism, recreational fishing, scientific study, and shipping and trade through ports and harbors along its coasts. Protecting our Bay means protecting millions of jobs in and around the state of Maryland.
Wooded Lands Protection
Due to an enormous lack of proper risk management, mismatched accounting, and poorly-regulated markets, American and European legislators have created an enormous demand for wood biomass and a tax-funded incentive to destroy wooded lands. Loggers cut natural forests in Florida wetlands or Virginia and replant pine, turning the trees into wood pellets for export to Europe. Because Europeans count carbon when trees are cut down and Americans count it when burned, European states account for roughly zero carbon emissions from imported American wood biomass—a greenhouse gas tax shelter.
We must create Federal regulations and legislation to ensure sufficient adjacent woodlands remain to regenerate habitats after logging; require restoration of the natural habitat, rather than alteration by replanting of different species; and require the re-logging and restoration of forests which have been replaced with non-native plantations. We should regulate tree plantations to minimize conversion of natural habitats.
I will also back stricter regulations on biomass emissions to reduce the amount of ash, heavy metals, and other toxic emissions from biomass burning plants. While cutting recently-grown trees is carbon-neutral in a short cycle, those trees do pull heavy metals and other toxins from the ground, and release toxic and acidic compounds when burned. Cutting old forests releases long-sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, and is not as renewable an energy source.
These and other regulations are necessary to restore and protect our forest lands and reduce ash and toxic emissions into our air. I will explore further regulation to declassify wood biomass as green energy or to restrict biomass export; however, it is more-critical to establish direct controls around the risks of any new market situation—regulatory or otherwise—which unexpectedly encourages the rapid destruction of our natural lands.
Agricultural Reserve and Solar Energy Expansion
To preserve our agricultural resources in Maryland and across the country, I will explore an expansion of non-forested, non-filter reserve agricultural land protection centered around non-permanent installation of solar generation capacity. This requires greater exploration, as opinions differ between constituents at all points along the political spectrum on whether reserve land should be used for solar generation.
I will also explore subsidies for solar generation over open parking space, such as at the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex Campus, where panels above 1,400 parking spaces generate over 5 megawatts of power. Panels above parking spaces can supply 600V DC for Level 3 high-speed electric vehicle charging with no conversion loss; and otherwise can provide AC power to the grid and to on-site electric vehicle charging to vehicles without CCS. CCBC's installed capacity generates enough electricity at peak to simultaneously charge 1,500 Chevrolet Volts or 125 Chevrolet Bolts at their maximum rate, and otherwise supplies a quarter of the campus's electricity.
Wood-Construction High-Rise Buildings
New wood growth sequesters an enormous amount of carbon dioxide. Dry, building-grade wood is 43.5% carbon by weight, and 1 tonne of wood represents 1.6 tonnes of removed CO2, the amount released by over half a tonne of coal. Ten- and twenty-story buildings of wood construction—150,000 to 300,000 square feet—sequester as much CO2 as produced by burning coal to power 1,000sqft apartments within them for 3-5 years.
These buildings often use polyurethane-bound wood fiberboard, which manufacturers can now produce from plant sources. Spray polyurethane foam insulation—also sourced from plant oils—can provide structural rigidity, flame retardation, sound isolation, and better than R7-per-inch insulation, reducing the energy consumption of these buildings for heating and cooling.
Such construction further increases the carbon sequestration and, combined with a carbon-neutral energy source such as solar or geothermal, can lead to a net-negative carbon economy. Further, many trees and other plants will consume and break down formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and other toxic industrial chemicals, cleaning the air as they're grown for building material feed stock.
I support funding the USDA to explore the challenges of wooden large building construction, notably in biologically-sourced adhesives, fireproofing, and insulation. We also need exploration in sorting recyclables from demolished buildings, and in sequestering of the waste material—such as by dumping the wood and bioplastic components down into tapped-out oil wells where it can degrade harmlessly out of the reach of our environment over the next thousands of years.