Climate Change

issues climate_change

 

Forward with Clean Energy
 
 
What:   Lobby Night and Rally to pass The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act to double wind and solar!
When:  The evening of Monday, February 23rd:
           Lobby Night Training and Registration: 5-6pm, House of Delegates Building, Bladen Street, Annapolis
           Visits with Legislators: 5:30-7pm  House of Delegates and Senate Office Buildings
           Rally: 7-8pm, Lawyer's Mall across from the State House, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD                      

Over half of Maryland's electricity comes from burning fossil fuels--coal, oil and natural gas--creating toxic air pollutants.  With The Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015, we are proposing that the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) be raised to 40% by 2025.

Please join us for the Maryland Climate Coalition's Lobby Day and Rally to show our legislators that we support increasing the clean, renewable sources of energy available to Marylanders to 40% by 2025.  Follow this link to let us know you're coming!

UULM-MD, a member of the Maryland Climate Coalition, is supporting the Maryland Clean Energy Advancement Act of 2015, SB373/HB377This legislation would increase the minimum percentage of energy supplied to Maryland consumers that must come from clean, renewable sources to 40% by 2025.

Clean Energy is an environmental issue.  A 40% clean electricity standard will have a similar reduction in carbon going into our atmosphere as removing 2 million passenger vehicles off the road every year.  (For more details, follow this link.)

Clean Energy is a health issue.  More than 85% of Marylanders live in areas that fail to meet the nation's clean air standards.  Maryland has the worst ground-level ozone pollution in the eastern U.S.  This contributes to increased rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.  (For more details, follow this link.)

Clean Energy is an economic issue.  Rising ocean temperatures threaten Maryland's shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay as well as the state's tourist, crabbing and fishing industries.  According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Annapolis and Baltimore will suffer more frequent flooding.  By increasing the clean electricity standard, (For more details, follow this link.)

Clean Energy is a social justice issue.  Low-income people and people of color are disproportionately harmed by the increased health costs and the decrease in good-paying jobs.  Based on the U.S. Department of Energy's Jobs and Economic Development Indicator, this legislation would incentivize nearly 1,600 new Maryland jobs per year in the solar industry and substantially more in the wind industry.
 
 

MD Climate Coalition

Cleaner Power, Brighter Maryland 

Cleaner Power Brighter Maryland

1) 40% x 2025:

Make Maryland a Leader: 40% Clean Electricity by 2025

 Maryland is fully capable of obtaining a robust 40% of its electricity from clean sources like wind and solar power by the not-so-distant year of 2025.

Today, in Maryland we still get a majority of our electricity from burning dirty fossil fuels, which in turn leads to almost half of our state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Thankfully, in 2004, Maryland became one of the first states to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires electricity suppliers to buy a growing share of their power from renewable sources. The original goal was 7.5% clean electricity by 2019. Since then, the RPS has been amended several times, most notably in 2008 by more than doubling the requirement to 20% by 2022. But with global warming accelerating faster than scientists predicted even 5 years ago, it’s time for the Maryland General Assembly to double this standard again, to 40% by 2025.

Governor Martin O’Malley called for a 25% clean electricity standard by 2020, and now a coalition of environmental, faith, health, and business groups is calling for the 40%-by-2025 goal.

With just a small increase in the rate of Maryland’s RPS growth, the state can reach the Governor O'Malley’s goal of 25%-by-2020 and then continue on to achieve 40%-by-2025.

How will Maryland be able to increase its clean energy ramp-up?

#1: Other States in the US, and Other Countries are near 40% today.

 

Country

Electricity Generation 2012 (GWh)

Geoth./Wind/Solar/Other 2012 (% of generation)

Hydro 2012 (% of generation)

Renewable Energy 2012 (% of generation)

Iowa

56,919

25%

1%

26%

Oregon

60,372

11%

65%

76%

North Dakota

36,179

15%

7%

22%

South Dakota

12,168

24%

49%

73%

Minnesota

52,560

14%

1%

16%

California

201,341

14%

13%

27%

Maine

15,049

8%

23%

31%

Italy

285,524

13%

15%

28%

Ireland

26,560

15%

4%

19%

Portugal

45,316

24%

14%

38%

Germany

583,926

13%

5%

18%

Spain

286,461

21%

8%

29%

Denmark

29,098

35%

0%

35%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 #2: Wind and solar prices are plummeting.

Solar PV module prices have fallen 80% since 2008, and 20% in 2012 alone!

What’s more, Maryland is leading the pack. In their 2012 countdown of the top solar states, the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) ranked Maryland #8 right in front of Texas and Colorado, and right behind sunny Hawaii. In explaining their decision, SEIA said:

Maryland tops all other states in the nation in driving down solar installation prices. Smart state policy has encouraged a great deal of solar deployment, with 74.3 megawatts installed in 2012. It’s clear the solar industry is starting to take root--it’s already surpassed the state’s famous crab industry in value.”

Wind turbine prices have fallen 29% since 2008, and 14% in 2012 alone!

Thanks to smart clean energy polices, wind power is now cost competitive with other forms of conventional energy.

Minnesota’s largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, recently submitted a proposal to build 600 MW of wind power beyond what is necessary to comply with the state’s current RPS. Explaining why the company made that decision, the CEO of Xcel Energy’s subsidiary said:

“Wind prices are extremely competitive right now, offering lower costs than other possible resources like natural gas plants. These projects offer a great hedge against rising and often volatile fuel prices.”

The Benefits

Jobs

Federal statistics show that Maryland has the 7th “greenest” work force in the U.S. with over 91,000 individuals employed in the sector in 2011. Governor O’Malley’s plan to increase the RPS to 25 percent would support between 3,000 and 5,400 jobs in Maryland annually between now and 2020. Extending the RPS to 40% by 2025 will allow Maryland to maintain that pace of supporting thousands of new jobs per year.

Climate

Enhancing the RPS to 40% by 2025 would reduce the carbon equivalent of taking hundreds of thousands of passenger vehicles off the road every year. This would give Maryland one of the strongest climate standards for electricity in America.

Health and Ratepayer Impacts

Achieving a 40% clean electricity standard will, over time, save Maryland’s economy billions of dollars in health costs from  avoided air pollution. These savings will help substantially offset an estimated slight increase in utility bills of a few dollars per month evolving from an expanded RPS.

Written by:

  • Tommy Landers, Maryland & DC Policy Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Christine Hill, Chris Hill, Campaign and Policy Representative - Maryland Beyond Coal, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter

Reprinted by the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland

2) "Fracking"--Drilling for Natural Gas:

Fracking: In 2015, UULM-MD is supporting the Protect Our Health and Communities Act, SB409/HB449. This legislation would prohibit issuing a permit for hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration or production of natural gas until April 30, 2023 and until certain requirements have been met, including information on the human and environmental consequences of the natural gas drilling process known as "fracking."

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wastewater pond

How would you like to have this in your backyard?  It's a wastewater pond for a fracking operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Climate Change, Pollution and

 

Maryland’s Fracking Moratorium

 

What is “fracking”?

 

Hydraulic fracturing of underground rock structures to recover natural gas is spreading rapidly around the US.  It is producing natural gas and grave environmental concerns. This practice, commonly called “Fracking”, involves high pressure pumping of huge amounts of water, sand and chemicals into promising rock or shale formations to break them and release trapped natural gas.  Fracking is reported in 28 States. Corporations now want to use fracking in Western Maryland and have obtained many “intent to frack” leases from local landowners.  

 

Are there concerns?

 

Industry avoids responsibility.  Industry’s approach is frack now, keep the chemicals used secret by claiming “trade secrets”, don’t tell landowners of all risks around leasing their land, deny provable legal responsibility for negative effects, delay impact research and lobby against regulatory legislation.   A Bush Administration regulatory exemption from the Clean Water Act is assuming, they cannot be held retroactively responsible for damages caused before regulations are imposed.  This strategy minimizes expenses and increases profits, but is often used and inspires much mistrust.  

Drilling pad

There is major awareness of the concerns surrounding frackingin much of the US, but not here because of Maryland’s fragile fracking moratorium.

 

Water use is a major concern.  Each well uses millions of gallons of water under high pressure to fracture underground rock and shale formations.  

 

Water contamination is a major concern.  There have been numerous reports of groundwater and surface water contamination attributed to chemicals used in fracking.  Industry denies responsibility citing lack of information clearly proving their responsibility.

 

Toxic waste water disposal is a major concern.  Water retrieved from wells contains many chemicals toxic to humans and the environment.
 Storage and disposal of this contaminated water brings risks from spills contaminating land and water to earthquakes from underground disposal.  Sewage treatment plants can’t detoxify it
and the industry says their practices are safe.

 

Land use is a major concern.  Drilling pads, waste storage sites and roads and pipelines leading to and from drilling sites convert lots of rural land to heavy industrial use. Landowners report being mislead about the effect of fracking leases on damage to their rural lands from industrialization anddrilling pad pond access road pollution and lowering its future resale value.  These and other concerns often reduce the financial and esthetic values of surrounding land from home sites to farms and parks

 

Greenhouse gases are a major concern.  Fracking, along with its related processing and transportation often release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Regulation, monitoring, controls and accountability for methane releases and leaks are generally lacking and difficult to enforce across thousand of fracking sites and miles of pipelines.  Burning the gas also produces CO2.  The total climate change impact from all aspects of fracking may be greater than coal, but much research is needed to clarify the total impact.  An ethical industry would pay for research on all aspects of fracking before proceeding, instead of just saying “trust us”.

 

Why moratorium Legislation now?

 

Fracking is only on temporary hold in Maryland. Governor Martin O’Malley issued an Executive Order in 2011 establishing a special commission to determine if and how fracking could be done safely in Maryland.  However, the commission lacks dedicated funding to do the studies and analyses of fracking’s impact on the human and natural environment.  Meanwhile, funding from our General Assembly for this vital work has been opposed by the industry.  Legal protections are lacking to prevent fracking before this critical research is done.

 

UUs role.

 

There is no legitimate need to rush ahead. The gas will wait in the ground. Avoiding industry openness and accountability is NOT a legitimate public policy goal.   Until Marylanders can make a fully informed, scientifically credible decision on whether and how to frack safely in Maryland, a leak-proof, legal moratorium on fracking is reasonable and essential.  With UUs contacting their legislators early and often, we and a broad coalition can get this done. Our General Assembly should pass this legislation in 2015 and we can help it happen!

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Surveys of Maryland Residents About Climate Change Released  

Two reports have been released from a survey developed by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.  The first report, "Public Health, Energy & Climate Change," found that, "More than half of Marylanders (52 percent) believe people in the United States are being harmed by climate change. A majority of Marylanders believe respiratory problems, injuries from storms or other extreme weather events and heat stroke will become more common because of climate change.Read more..

 The full report can be found at http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OEHFP/EH/Shared%20Documents/Maryland_PublicHealth_Energy_ClimateChange_Survey_July2013.pdf.

 

The second report, " Climate Change & Energy: Public Attitudes, Behavior & Policy Support," released by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, included the following information:

 

"In this report we present findings about attitudes, behaviors, and policy preferences regarding energy and climate change based on a sample of 2,126 state residents. By randomly sampling across each of the state's four distinct geographical and cultural regions, we are able to generalize to these areas, and the state as a whole.

 

"Selected key findings include:

 

A large majority say climate change is real, and action is needed

  • The large majority of Marylanders say they believe that climate change is happening - 86% - with half of respondents saying that they are very or extremely sure. This number is striking considering that a national poll asking the same question during the same period found that only 63% of Americans say that global warming is happening.  

Most say their local environment is changing, and their weather is getting worse

  • More than half of our respondents said they feel that their local weather and environment is changing (64%), and that the weather is getting worse (51%).  

A large majority support local and state government protection against climate harm

  • More than three-quarters of Marylanders say that they support their local and state governments taking action to protect their community against harm caused by climate change. Very few oppose governmental action - less than 13%.  

Many are unsure of state's energy sources, but prefer renewables like solar and wind

  • Roughly half or more of state residents (48-59%) admit that they don't know even in general terms how much electricity generated in Maryland comes from various sources - including petroleum (oil), natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar and wind; and there are large misperceptions among those people who feel they do know.
  • More than half of state residents say that they would like to see more of their electricity come from renewable sources, such as solar (69%), and wind (land-based, 62%; offshore, 59%).  

The survey was fielded from March 28 to June 4, 2013 with a response rate of 38%. The report can be downloaded here: Climate Change & Energy - Public Attitudes, Behaviors & Policy Support: A Survey of Maryland Residents, Summer 2013."

 

"A previous report - examining Marylanders' perceptions and policy preferences regarding the health implications of energy choices and climate change - is available at online here. "

 Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia 22032

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 UUs and Climate Change

As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize the interdependence of all existence and are called to seek solutions to environmental degradation in affirmation of our Seventh Principle. Most are now aware of the severe consequences of the Earth’s shifting climate, which not only threatens to disrupt key ecological processes, but will exacerbate worldwide inequality as its impacts disproportionately affect marginalized groups in vulnerable regions. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was a stark reminder of the grave consequences of our reliance on nonrenewable energy, as its impacts not only harmed sensitive habitat and marshland, but reverberated throughout communities whose livelihoods rely on sustainable fishery management. As a coastal state, Maryland is projected to be particularly impacted by sea level rise, with profound implications for our State’s ecology, economy, and culture. 

2013 brings renewed opportunities for Maryland citizens to help launch our State into a position of national climate leadership. At stake is one of the largest offshore wind farms yet proposed in the United States, an initiative which would minimize our State’s reliance on non-renewable energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce unemployment. Unitarian Universalists have always provided key contributions to nationwide grassroots environmental efforts, and now more than ever we are called to stand as a leading example on the importance of citizen campaigns to transform Maryland’s energy dependence. 

Please click here to read more about UULM's position on climate change.

Wind Power

To read about the extent and success of wind power in Europe, go to this article published by the European Wind Energy Association.

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For additional information on these and other environmental issues, check out:

1Sky
UU UNO Climate Change Task Force
League of Conservation Voters
Union of Concerned Scientists 
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Environment Maryland
Sierra Club of Maryland
Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light 
UU Ministry for Earth 

In addition to being a UULM-MD priority, global warming is a top issue for many other statewide advocacy networks as well as the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Service Committee. Please click here to view the Statement of Conscience adopted at the 2006 UUA General Assembly.

The UULM-MD Board of Directors has adopted guidelines that UUs may use when fiscal issues arise in relation to our priority issues, such as global warming. Please click here to read the guidelines.

For more information on this issue, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.