Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks at an event in Sparrows Point, Maryland, where signed several environmental bills, including the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act, on April 21. (Photo by Joe Andrucyk, Patrick Siebert)
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks at an event in Sparrows Point, Maryland, where signed several environmental bills, including the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act, on April 21. (Photo by Joe Andrucyk, Patrick Siebert)

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The DMV had a packed schedule of environmental festivals, cleanups and other events throughout April, as groups of all types and sizes celebrated the planet in the lead-up to Earth Day on April 22. Dozens more activities took place on Earth Day itself, despite a thunderstorm and torrential downpour later in the afternoon.  

Meanwhile, many agencies and organizations announced big plans for the environment during Earth Month. Check out a few regional and national environment stories you might have missed in April. 

  1. Maryland Passes Law to Boost Offshore Wind Energy

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed the Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources (POWER) Act on April 21, saying at an event held for the signing that the law would help “make Maryland the offshore wind capital of the United States.” 

Passed by the state legislature on April 10, the POWER Act aims to more than quadruple the amount of energy currently produced by offshore wind projects in the state, setting a goal of 8.5 gigawatts by 2031. The  Maryland Energy Administration estimates that the state’s offshore wind industry could provide enough energy to power about 600,000 homes. 

The bill received bipartisan support from state legislators. In addition to the climate benefits of replacing fossil fuel burning with clean energy, offshore wind manufacturing has the potential to create thousands of jobs in the state. The POWER Act sets stronger labor standards for jobs within the industry. 

  1. Biden Marks Earth Day With More Environmental Justice Measures

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on April 21 that requires every federal agency to create plans to address environmental harms that disproportionately fall on marginalized communities, and report on their progress. The order also forms an Office of Environmental Justice within the White House and mandates that agencies notify communities whenever toxic substances leak from a federal facility. 

In addition to the executive order, Biden announced other actions on this issue, including the release of an Environmental Justice Scorecard. The government-wide assessment will measure agencies’ progress on advancing environmental justice goals. 

These actions build on previous Biden administration efforts. Within his first week in office, the president signed an executive order creating the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to direct 40% of the overall benefits from certain federal investments into disadvantaged communities. Biden also appointed the first-ever Senior Director for Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality; that agency will now host the new environmental justice office announced last week. 

  1. Metro Releases Its “Better Bus” Map Redesign

Metro released its draft “visionary network” on April 17, after a five-year process to redesign its regional bus network—which hasn’t seen an overhaul in more than three decades. The agency’s proposal includes 24/7 service and 100 routes that operate every 20 minutes or better. Many of the routes would operate with frequencies of 12 minutes or less. 

Unfortunately for riders, the map will likely remain wishful thinking, at least for now. The re-imagined network would cost 35% more than the current map, according to reporting from DCist transportation reporter Jordan Pascale. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal, which her office released last month, would cut bus service, eliminating three of the D.C. Circulator’s six routes. The mayor is also trying to hit the brakes on the free bus fare program passed by the D.C. Council last year. With the first budget shortfall in years looming, Bowser’s proposed budget suggests her office will not support any new spending to expand transportation access or increase climate change mitigation efforts

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Kayla Benjamin photo

Kayla Benjamin

Kayla Benjamin covers climate change & environmental justice for the Informer as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program. Prior to her time here, she worked at Washingtonian Magazine...

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