BALTIMORE, NOV 30 – As state lawmakers gear up for another debate about offshore wind power in 2012, Maryland Senator Catherine Pugh of Baltimore City heard vocal support for the issue from dozens of her constituents and an array of local Baltimore organizations and businesses at this evening’s town hall forum at Saint Mark’s Church.
“Offshore wind offers Baltimoreans and Marylanders local, clean energy for years to come, improved public health, and jobs both in constructing and maintaining the wind turbines,” said Ewa Krason, Field Organizer for Environment Maryland, one of the groups who organized the event.
This town hall comes just a few weeks before the start of the 2012 General Assembly session in which Gov. Martin O’Malley will promote a bill to tap the power of wind blowing off Maryland’s Atlantic coast. Senator Pugh (D) sits on the Senate Finance Committee which will review this legislation.
Senator Pugh was joined by her colleague in the House of Delegates, Del. Barbara Robinson, and a variety of panelists who spoke about job creation, health benefits and climate change reduction that offshore wind power can provide.
“All of Maryland must benefit from offshore wind development,” said Joe Gaskins, CEO of the Economic Development and Training Institute. “In the Baltimore area alone, there are over 200 businesses, many minority-owned that could potentially participate in the supply chain process.”
Gaskins was joined by Ross Tyler of the Business Coalition for Maryland Offshore Wind and Rod Easter, President of the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council, who also highlighted the economic benefits of offshore wind power.
With the Persian Gulf of wind power just off our coast, this new American industry will take off whether Maryland is on board or not. After losing 85,000 manufacturing jobs since 1990, Maryland workers cannot afford to see this serious jobs plan disappear according the coalition Wind Works For Maryland that Environment Maryland is a part of. One moderate sized offshore wind park would create 2400 jobs, and there are over 1000 Maryland businesses, employing over 30,000 workers, that could participate in offshore wind development.
Christine D. Keels, a 30-year Baltimore resident with severe asthma, spoke emotionally about her yearly hospitalizations and complications from asthma over the last decade and highlighted the importance of Maryland moving toward a clean energy future.
“I remember pictures of windmills as a child and always felt that it meant clean air and healthy living” Keels said. “As an adult Baltimore resident with asthma, I want the same clean air I dreamed of as child” she added.
Katie Huffling from Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and the University Of Maryland School Of Nursing also spoke about the health benefits of offshore wind energy stating that “changing to offshore wind power can reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and help make it easier for kids with asthma to stay out of the ER.”
With offshore wind, Maryland families will save over $4 billion over 25 years by preventing premature deaths. Marylanders cannot afford to continue paying higher medical bills for asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and lung disease.
Maryland cannot meet its statutory clean energy standards without offshore wind power. The state’s renewable electricity standard and the carbon reduction standard are required by historic acts of the General Assembly. Offshore wind energy will help to meet these responsibilities.
“Offshore wind works for Marylanders. Offshore wind works for ratepayers, workers, our health, our climate, and our national security. We cannot afford to miss the many, many benefits that offshore wind development will bring to Maryland,” said Tommy Landers, Campaign Director for Environment Maryland.