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Political Notes: Sierra Club Backs King

6/10/2022 | Josh Kurtz

Maryland Matters

The Democratic candidates for governor generally agree on the urgency of addressing climate change in Maryland, and they support many of the same measures to combat global warning.

But it often seems as if John King, the former Obama administration Education secretary, has the most steadfast, comprehensive and integrated proposals to confront climate change. Case in point: When the Democratic candidates met for a televised debate earlier this week, many said they favored enacting another state gas tax holiday; King said he’d rather use the gas tax for projects that enable the state to move away from fossil fuel use for transportation.

Now, King is reaping the rewards: On Thursday, the political arm of the Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter announced it was endorsing King in the July 19 primary.

“We are facing a climate emergency, collapse of biodiversity, plastic pollution crisis all while seeing attacks nationwide on civil liberties like access to voting and women’s reproductive rights. John King knows exactly what’s at stake and is ready to proactively meet the challenges head on,” said Rosa Hance, chair of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The group said it reached its decision after researching candidates’ records, reviewing questionnaires, and interviewing nine of the contenders for governor over several months. The Sierra Club also cited King’s work with Strong Future Maryland, a multi-issue advocacy organization that King launched in 2020.

“It’s great that so many candidates are talking about climate change and their plans to address it,” said Rich Norling, the Maryland chapter’s political chair. “John King stands out above the crowd because he has a deep understanding and strong passion to get the necessary things done. In fact, through Strong Future Maryland he has already been working in recent years on solutions to the climate crisis and environmental justice.”

In response to the endorsement, King vowed to “make Maryland a leader in the fight against climate change, achieve net zero emissions by 2035, protect the bay, and reverse long standing systemic environmental injustice.”

Two other politically-minded environmental groups, the League of Conservation Voters and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, have yet to weigh in on the gubernatorial contest.