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A recent poll reveals strong Marylander support for holding polluters accountable for climate change.

Environmental advocates are bolstered by a recent poll showing that voters in Maryland want policymakers to take a tough stance against fossil fuel companies. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) released the poll, which surveyed 307 registered voters statewide and 312 registered voters in legislative District 29. District 29 was chosen as a swing district that leans to the right, making it a significant area to gauge public opinion.

The poll asked participants about their level of concern regarding climate change, with nearly 72% of respondents statewide expressing either very concerned or somewhat concerned. When asked if they had personally been impacted by climate change, 48% responded yes. These results highlight the growing awareness and concern about climate change among the general public.

The poll also gauged support for the Responding to Emergency Needs from Extreme Weather (RENEW) Act, which proposes making Maryland’s infrastructure more resilient to climate change and requiring big oil and gas companies to contribute financially. Over two-thirds of respondents, or 68%, expressed support for the measure, while 29% opposed it. The majority of Democrats, 82.5%, were in favor of the bill, along with 43% of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated voters.

Furthermore, the poll asked participants if their opinion of a lawmaker would be influenced by their support for a bill that improves Maryland’s infrastructure and holds big oil and gas companies accountable for climate change costs. Statewide, 55% of voters said it would enhance their opinion, 21% said it would diminish their opinion, and 24% said it would have no impact. This indicates that supporting climate action measures can be beneficial for lawmakers.

The RENEW Act, which has yet to be formally introduced, aims to impose fines on Maryland’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. The bill’s sponsors estimate that it could generate around $900 million annually for a decade, which would fund many of the state’s climate initiatives. However, Governor Wes Moore and legislative leaders have not yet embraced the bill. The Senate sponsor, Katie Fry Hester, argues that the legislation won’t cost the state anything, as the financial burden of environmental damage currently falls on taxpayers.

The bill’s sponsors are also seeking support from U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who has introduced a federal bill to make polluters pay for climate damage. Lawmakers find significance in the poll’s finding that almost half of Marylanders have been directly impacted by the climate crisis. They believe this will provide momentum for their legislative push.

Overall, the poll results demonstrate strong support for climate action in Maryland and indicate that voters want policymakers to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their contributions to climate change.

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