NUCU_logo_new.pngThis pudding has no theme this week. More states are suing fossil fuel companies for climate change effects; Maryland is getting high marks on LGBTQ+ and data privacy protection; reaching for climate goals here and elsewhere keeps getting more complicated; and the tense standoff between Israel and its number one arms supplier (that would be US) gets tenser. More going on than you might imagine, so dig in.



Workers at a Maryland Apple Store Authorize Strike

Back in 2022, workers in Towson, Maryland became the first formally recognized union at an Apple retail store. That union, which is part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, voted Saturday to authorize a strike. The date of this potential strike has yet to be determined. TechCrunch via Portside AND Towson Apple Union Workers Vote To Strike: Unionized employees at an Apple store in Towson have voted to authorize a strike amid union accusations that the tech giant isn’t bargaining in good faith in negotiations over its first union contract. WaPo via MD Reporter


Maryland Counties Get New Tool to Boost Affordable Housing Stock: A Vacancy Tax

The law authorizes Baltimore City and Maryland county governments to set tax rates for vacant lots and properties to discourage speculation and stimulate development. House Bill 2, passed in the recent Assembly session, authorizes city and county governments to establish, by law, a subclass of real property consisting of vacant lots or improved property cited as vacant and unfit for habitation or other authorized use on a housing or building violation notice. Further, Baltimore City and county governments may set a special property tax rate for a vacant lot or improved property cited as vacant and unfit for habitation or other authorized use on a housing or building violation notice. [The bill is intended to suppress housing speculation, considered a practice that keeps the state’s housing stock tight.] Conduit Street (MaCo)


Replacing A Talen Energy Coal-Fired Power Plant With Battery Storage Is Infeasible: PJM

A Sierra Club proposal that aims to avoid a “reliability must-run contract” for the 1,280-megawatt Brandon Shores plant near Baltimore is unworkable, according to the multistate grid operator,  PJM Interconnection. The Sierra Club had suggested battery backup instead of converting the plan from coal to oil for grid backup. Retirement of the coal-fired plant will be more complicated than expected if PJM’s opinion proves out. Utility Dive


Data Privacy Bills Become Law: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Thursday signed both a comprehensive data privacy law and a children’s data privacy law. The children’s data privacy law, modeled on regulations in the United Kingdom, is likely to wind up in court. The comprehensive bill imposes stricter data collection requirements on companies than similar measures from other states. (Pluribus News) (paywalled) AND Online Privacy Act Signed Into Law: Gov. Wes Moore has signed into law new online privacy protections for state residents. But it will be awhile before those take effect. The Maryland Online Privacy Act of 2024 was a ‘behemoth’ to pass through the General Assembly this year according to one of its sponsors, Sen. Dawn Gile (D-Anne Arundel). She says the lack of similar legislation passed by Congress was one of many inspirations for the measure. “So it’s incumbent on states to do something to protect your personal data,” Gile said. WYPR-FM via MD Reporter


Legislation Boosts State Ranking As LGBTQ+ Friendly: While the 2024 session was a bit more understated on new legislative protections for Maryland’s LGBTQ+ population compared to previous years, a nationwide policy tracker reports that the state is creating a more LGBTQ+ friendly state based off recent legislation. Maryland Matters.


Virtual Power Plants, Ders and Home Electrification Get Boost From Trio Of New Maryland laws – Nonprofit Tags MD A “Leading State”

The laws could help Maryland meet its goals to generate 14.5% of electricity from solar by 2028, achieve a 60% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030 and install 3 GW of energy storage by 2033. (Utility) Dive Brief:

  • Gov. Wes Moore, D-Md., signed three bills on Thursday supporting distributed energy resources, virtual power plants and home electrification in Maryland.
  • The DRIVE Act, Brighter Tomorrow Act and an update to the emPOWER Act known as Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plans require utilities to support VPPs and bidirectional EV charging, reduce barriers for residential solar installations and rework an existing home efficiency program to prioritize meaningful greenhouse gas reductions.
  • The three new laws make Maryland “a leading state” in promoting consumer-friendly energy system reforms, said Thad Culley, director of public policy for Sunrun. Utility Dive





Chesapeake Bay Restoration Leaders, Advocates Divided on Best Path Forward -- Some Say Stay The Course, Others Push For Reset –

For decades, Chesapeake Bay policies and funding have largely focused on making sure that creatures in the deepest part of the estuary get enough air to breathe. Should they pay greater attention to habitats more important to overall aquatic health and to waterways more important to the people living on its watershed? Yes, according to many people trying to envision how the state-federal Bay Program partnership should evolve after it misses many key goals set for 2025. But senior state and federal leaders so far have shown little desire in embracing what would be a sea change for the 41-year-old partnership, which over the decades has increasingly focused on reducing nutrient pollution in the deepest waters of the Bay as the primary means of improving ecosystem health. Bay Journal


ENVIRONMENT: Mich AG Plans Suit vs. Fossil Fuel Corps, Joining Other States

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) says she will sue the fossil fuel industry over damages caused by climate change. Rhode Island became the first state to sue big oil companies in 2018, and other states are pursuing strategies similar to those that won big settlements from tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. (Bridge MI) via Pluribus


Wildfire Smoke Predicted To Become Regular Concern for US

The National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that wildfire smoke can potentially cause as many as 27,800 U.S. deaths per year by 2050, and cost approximately $244 billion annually. For 2023, the major source of wildfire smoke was from Canada, but as the climate becomes warmer and dryer, US forests are also put at great risk. While the West Coast is more familiar with severe wildfire events, they will become a more frequent phenomenon nationally. Congress is currently debating two bills to help better prepare the nation for severe wildfire emergencies. Conduit Street (MaCo)

Waste Water Analysis Helps Prevent Overdoses

One person’s bathroom business could be key to a public health worker tackling the opioid crisis. In the millions of gallons of water that Americans flush down their toilets every day, lie valuable insights on what’s happening in communities. Wastewater data can reveal, for example, the presence of viruses like COVID-19 or contaminants like PFAS. And now, sewage could play a critical role in combating the opioid crisis. A new study from the research and data analytics firm Mathematica has found that insights from wastewater analysis can not only help local leaders better understand drug use in their communities, but also potentially prevent overdoses. Route Fifty

GUN LAWS: Tougher Penalties for Straw Buyers in Minn. The Minnesota Senate approved stronger penalties for gun straw buyers, who purchase guns legally for those not allowed to own them, along with a ban on binary triggers, which allow one shot to be fired with the pull of a trigger and a second shot with the trigger release, the Star Tribune reports. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has said he would sign the bill. Stateline Daily




‘Build Green’ Bill Seeks a Clean Shift in Transportation Spending

Some Democrats seek to revive Biden’s original transformative climate vision with a $500 billion investment favoring public transit and carbon reduction. Inside Climate News

Affordable Internet Program Faces Phase-out as Congress Wrestles with Renewal

The start of what could be the final month of a popular federal internet subsidy has set off a scramble as legislators weigh a possible extension amid warnings of dire consequences should the program be allowed to expire. Beginning May 1, the subsidy dropped from $30 to $14 a month for some households. The Federal Communications Commission has been in the process of winding down the Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, funded by the 2021 infrastructure law, for several months. In February, it stopped accepting applications to join the estimated 23 million people across the country that benefit from the subsidy. A $7 billion bipartisan, bicameral bill to extend the ACP to the end of this year is pending in Congress. Route Fifty [WIRED online magazine reports that Comcast is “seizing the moment and pitching its new, cheapish plans as a balm for that lack of access. Comcast’s new home plan comes in two flavors: a 100-Mbps connection for $30 per month, and 200-Mbps for $40]

From People’s Action: Megan E’s Roundup On Congress And The Feds: Last week, the Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization act, which would boost air traffic controller staffing, increase funding to avert runway close-call incidents and speed refunds for canceled flights. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) offered an amendment that would “empower the secretary of the Treasury to revoke the nonprofit status of any organization deemed ‘terrorist supporting.’” The bill, if it becomes law, could be used to attack news organizations and nonprofits that support Palestinian liberation and or a ceasefire. The amendment didn’t pass but it is likely to come up again.  Republican leaders are devoting the rest of the calendar to law-enforcement-themed measures in honor of National Police Week. 

Last week, President Biden delayed the delivery of 3,500 bombs to Israel out of concern they would be used to kill civilians in Rafah. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated over the weekend that, “If Israel launches this major military operation into Rafah, then there are certain systems that we are not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation.” This week, House Republicans plan to pass the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, which would make it illegal to “withhold, halt, reverse, or cancel the delivery of defense articles or defense services from the United States to Israel.” Right now the Biden administration has the authority to withhold weapons if it thinks that Israel will violate international law (as they continue to do). 

Student protests that call for their university’s divestment from the state of Israel and for a ceasefire in the Middle East continued throughout the weekend when many universities were holding graduation ceremonies. 

The NYTimes reports that “Trump Leads in 5 Key States, as Young and Nonwhite Voters Express Discontent With Biden: A new set of Times/Siena polls, including one with The Philadelphia Inquirer, reveal an erosion of support for the president among young and nonwhite voters upset about the economy and Gaza.” Polling has not changed since November despite Biden spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising in those states. 


Issue Update: Climate

Looming power grid rules could make or break the US energy transition

Federal regulators are split on how to spread grid costs among states with dramatically different clean energy policies. Next week, they’ll reveal their decision.


Department of Energy’s (DOE) Renew America’s Schools Program

Applications are now open for the second round of funding from the Renew America’s Schools Program. The competition will award an anticipated $180 million to districts across the country engaging in strategic partnerships to build capacity and implement energy upgrades in their schools. The submission deadline is Thursday, June 13, at 5pm ET. Go to #1 on the EPN's website for more information. 

GND for Schools information:


Gas stove pollution harms poor and minority Americans the most, due in part to different home sizes, study says. The researchers estimated that gas and propane stoves contribute to as many as 19,000 adult deaths annually in the US.


Issue Update: Healthcare

Economic Liberties Project white paper on Medicare Advantage 


Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter Announces Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion. The Justice Department today announced the formation of the Antitrust Division’s Task Force on Health Care Monopolies and Collusion (HCMC). The HCMC will guide the division’s enforcement strategy and policy approach in health care, including by facilitating policy advocacy, investigations and, where warranted, civil and criminal enforcement in health care markets.


'Long overdue:' Local DACA recipients to benefit from expanded health care coverage


Issue Update: Housing

Housing Discrimination Still Remains a Reality for Many Women and LGBTQIA+ People - National Women's Law Center: Access to safe, accessible, and affordable housing in neighborhoods of their choice is vital to the wellbeing of women, LGBTQIA+ people, and families.


Issue Update: Immigration

Rep. Barragán' has lead a letter along with 83 Members of Congress urging President Biden to take action that would provide relief to long-settled undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Here is an NBC article on the letter. 


--Megan Essaheb, Federal Affairs Director, People’s Action

woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...