On Monday I attended a rally in Annapolis where we encircled the Maryland Statehouse to show support for offshore wind in Maryland. While this might not seem like something worthy of a blog post, this rally was a very pivotal experience for me (and the state). What made this rally so noteworthy is that it featured representatives from broad constituencies across Maryland coming together to advocate for clean energy, green jobs, public health, and the future of Maryland. It was also the first time that people had formed a circle around the Statehouse, for what it’s worth.
Speakers at the rally included Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (a champion for both environmental justice and marriage equality), Mike Tidwell from Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Thalia Patrinos from the Maryland Student Climate Coalition, several other community leaders from Baltimore City and Prince George’s County excited about the green job opportunities from offshore wind development, and a registered nurse who is concerned with the health impact of fossil fuels. Clearly, the support for offshore wind development in Maryland isn’t just a cause for tree hugging environmentalists (nor should it be, clean, domestic energy is something all Americans should support).
This rally was specifically in support of the Maryland State Senate passing Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind bill, which has already been passed by the State House with a vote of 88 to 47 . While the bill doesn’t put a cap on carbon emissions or prohibit the burning of fossil fuels in Maryland, it would help to establish a thriving wind energy industry in the state of Maryland, thereby reducing fossil fuel emissions and improving air quality. Air quality is a problem for Maryland for both environmental and health reasons. The state has one of the highest adult asthma rates in the country, largely due to its poor air quality as a result of emissions from dirty energy and vehicles (the state has one of the longest average commutes in the country).
Given the broad coalition of support the offshore wind bill has as well as the economic and public health benefits, it’s clear that Maryland is ready to move into the clean energy future. Now the question is: will the Maryland State Senate step up to the plate and pass Governor O’Malley’s offshore wind bill? As an asthmatic who is proud to have been a resident of Maryland for three years, graduated from a Maryland state college, and considers the state a second home, I really hope so. Because public health, the environment, and jobs are at stake and I would hate to see Maryland, normally such a progressive state, miss out on this fabulous opportunity.