by Susanna Parker

Maryland Senate Passes Offshore Wind BillBGnews_logo

The third time is the charm – after proposing offshore wind bills in 2011 and 2012, Governor Martin O’Malley’s Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed in the Maryland Senate on March 8. The vote, which had a large favorable margin in the Maryland House, passed in the Senate 30 to 15. The passage of this bill would allow Maryland to hire a private developer to build a series of turbines off the coast of Ocean City. The higher rate for offshore wind, and the cost of development, would require Maryland residential ratepayers to pay an additional $1.50 a month after the turbines are constructed. Maryland businesses would also pay a monthly surcharge of 1.5 percent. O’Malley has framed the monthly charge as a low but necessary cost in establishing an industry in Maryland that has both high potential for green energy but comes with multi-billion dollar start-up costs.

Maryland joins several other states including New Jersey in establishing “carve-outs” for green energy in their state energy budgets. These carve-outs have driven growth in other states, and wind energy advocates hope that the bill will kick-start the offshore wind industry throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is optimistic about the effect the bill will have on Maryland’s economy, stating that “it’s a driver of innovation that will create jobs, enhance our economy, improve public health, and protect the climate.” For more information on the bill, read the Washington Post article here.  Visit the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to find out how to thank your Senator for their vote.

New York Times Comes Out Against Keystone XL Pipeline

In an editorial published March 11, the New York Times urged President Obama to reject the pipeline that would funnel Canadian tar sand oil across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The Times editorial comes shortly after the State Department’s report stating that the pipeline would have little environmental impact because Canada would develop the tar sand oil with or without the pipeline, therefore building it or not would have no long-term effects. The Times, however, points out that rejecting the pipeline would require Canadians to “play a larger role in deciding whether a massive expansion of tar sands development is prudent.” The lack of a U.S. pipeline would force Canada to build one that spanned their own provinces, a project that has already been delayed due to concerns about the potential environmental impact.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would traverse 875 miles of the United States and transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The process of extracting, refining, and burning tar sands oil is a dirtier process than that for standard crude, yielding annual greenhouse gas emissions that are roughly 17 percent higher. Additionally, the tar sands and the boreal forest that holds them are major carbon sinks; by extracting the tar sands we both add carbon to the atmosphere and take away a method of removing it. The Times urges President Obama to reject the project, stating that “a president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that can only add to the problem.” Read the full editorial at the New York Times.

Upcoming Green Events

2_Bidder 70 E Flyer

  • Bidder 70, Friday, March 15, 7:30 pm, St. Columba’s Church, Washington DC

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was sent to jail at age 21 for bidding on, and winning, millions of dollars worth of land parcels under false pretenses at a Bureau of Land Management auction. His actions drew ire from gas and oil companies, and applause from environmentalists; Bidder 70 documents DeChristopher’s trial and conviction. Part of the DC Environmental Film Festival, Friday’s screening will be hosted by Ray Suarez and feature musical guests Magpie. Tickets are $7 at the door, seating is limited. For more information on the screening, please visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • Save a Birding Hot Spot! Sunday, March 17, 9 am – 11 am, 20500 Zion Road, Laytonsville, MD

Join the Montgomery County Sierra Club, the Montgomery Bird Club, and the Department of Environmental Protection to remove invasive plants from the Blue Mash Nature Trail. The area, a haven for birds and wildlife, has seen its bird diversity drop off due to non-native plants. Bring your clippers, saws, and loppers, and help restore a wildlife habitat. For more information and to RSVP, please visit here.

  • Recycling 101 – Make Recycling Your Business! Thursday, March 21, 9 am – 12 noon, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD

Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste Services presents a workshop featuring information on implementing a successful recycling program in the workplace. Learn about Montgomery County’s recycling requirements, how to reduce waste, and where to buy products made from recyclable materials. The cost is $10 per person. For more information and to RSVP, please visit here.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

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