For Immediate Release: November 30, 2022
Media Contact: Gabriela Hernandez, [email protected]
Montgomery County, Md. — On November 29, 2022, the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted in favor of passing the Comprehensive Building Decarbonization Bill, which requires the County Executive to issue all-electric building standards for new construction by 2026. CASA’s Montgomery County Organizer Alex Vazquez issued the following statement in response to the passage of Bill 13-22.
“CASA members – Black and brown immigrants – have personally faced the dangers of gas emissions in Montgomery County, as there have been several apartment gas explosions over the past few years. Just earlier this year, there was another explosion at the Friendly Garden Apartments which resulted in dozens of people injured and displaced. Since the 2016 Flower Branch apartment explosion, CASA has campaigned aggressively for legislation and regulation at the local and state levels to move our communities’ dependency away from fossil fuels. The passage of Bill 13-22 is an enormous milestone. This is a step in the right direction in our efforts to reach carbon neutrality in Montgomery County by 2035.”
According to the Office of Legislative Oversight, about 17% of Montgomery County households are energy-burdened, as more than 6% of their income goes toward their energy bills. Additionally, 9% live in energy poverty as more than 10% of their income goes toward energy bills. Inequities in poverty rates by race and ethnicity suggest that Black and Latine households face more significant energy burdens than white and Asian households.
For months, impacted CASA members testified and rallied in support of Bill 13-22 alongside several climate organizations to bring the legislation to the finish line.
“I remember the day of the Flower Branch explosion like it was yesterday. I rushed over to help my friend, who was impacted by the explosion,” shared Ana Laura Garcia, CASA member. “The trauma we both suffered will be lifelong, but for us, the passage of this bill moves us towards ensuring that no one ever deals with the extreme dangers of gas, like we did.”
Another CASA member, Michelle Quinonez, expressed, “As an undocumented mother and a woman of color, the passage of this legislation brings me hope regarding my children’s future because they will be the ones who will face the consequences of carbon emissions if we don’t act now. Montgomery County has opened the door for the rest of the state to follow. This is just the beginning.”
Climate justice remains one of CASA’s top priorities because deep-rooted environmental racism plagues marginalized, low-income, immigrant communities throughout the country. As the devastating effects of climate change continue to worsen rapidly, the fight for more environmentally conscious legalization continues.
“Montgomery County has set an example as it becomes the first county in Maryland to pass local legislation requiring new construction to use all-electric energy equipment,” closed Vazquez.
With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.