Offshore Wind: The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Bill, SB275/HB226, passed the Maryland General Assembly and was signed by the Governor on April 9, 2013. This legislation establishes the framework for a 200 megawatt offshore wind energy project that will provide a clean, renewable energy source for Maryland. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard for passage of this legislation for the past three years!
Please thank your legislators who voted for this bill. You can find the votes here. For a direct link to your legislators' emails, go here.
For resource information about Maryland and offshore wind, follow this link to the Resources page of Marylanders for Offshore Wind. UULM-MD's Climate Change Task Force Chair, Dave Hackett, is on the Steering Committee of Marylanders for Offshore Wind and The Maryland Climate Change and Clean Energy Coalition.
To read a letter about offshore wind energy in Maryland to the Editor of the Washington Post written by Dereck Davis (Dist. 25-Prince George's Co.), Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee and Mac Middleton (Dist. 28-Charles Co.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, follow this link.
How would you like to have this in your backyard? It's a wastewater pond for a fracking operation.
Fracking: UULM-MD is supporting SB601,Maryland Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium and Right to Know Act of 2013 and HB1274, Maryland Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium and Right to Know Act of 2013. These bills provide for research to be done to provide scientifically credible information on the human and environmental consequences of the process known as "fracking."
SB 601 will have a hearing with the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 26th at 1:00 p.m. HB1274 will be heard by the Environmental Matters Committee on March 8th at 1:00 p.m.
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.
There is major awareness of the concerns surrounding fracking in 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 and 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.
Because the Executive Order does not have the force of law and lacks funding, the Maryland General Assembly must immediately pass legislation to temporarily prevent fracking until two steps are completed. First, the impact studies identified in the Executive Order must be funded, completed and publicly reported to the General Assembly and citizens. Second, legislators can decide if and how fracking is appropriate for Maryland based on complete and credible information. Nothing less is acceptable.
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 2013 and we can help it happen!
Global Climate Change: Disrupting the Interdependent Web of All Existence
As Unitarian Universalists, we recognize the interdependence of all existence. We 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 warming climate. This 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 and Fukushima nuclear reactor problems in Japan are stark reminders of the grave consequences of our reliance on fossil and nuclear energy. The impacts are huge and their duration still unknown. Hurricane Sandy is emblematic of changes in the weather. 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 lead on climate change and renewable energy. Maryland can soon begin generating electricity with wind turbines in the shallow waters off Ocean City, launching an offshore wind industry for America. This initiative will minimize our State’s reliance on fossil energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce unemployment. Unitarian Universalists have always provided key contributions to nationwide grassroots environmental efforts. Now more than ever we are called to lead as UUs and citizens to transform Maryland’s energy industry and protect our health and environment.
Offshore Wind: A Green Opportunity for Maryland
Currently, the majority of Maryland’s energy is from coal-powered plants. These release a staggering amount of greenhouse gas and other pollutants each year. Coal extraction, which often involves mountaintop removal, is devastating to biodiversity, and, as recent mine explosions demonstrate, to human health and wellbeing. Cleaner energy blows freely just off our beaches. The Federal government has recently made 277 square nautical miles off the coast of Maryland available for lease by wind power companies:
Creating offshore wind farms, however, will require a shift in our State’s current regulatory paradigms. Specifically, energy companies need incentives to invest billions, so that the significant start-up costs may be recouped. It is imperative that we urge our State representatives to pass legislation that directs Maryland utilities to buy energy from offshore wind farms. Such legislation passed the House of Delegates but not the Senate in 2012. If we citizens require it, 2013 will be our year to authorize an offshore wind industry for Maryland.
While the Gulf oil spill and Fukushima reactor problems are ecological tragedies, coal mining and burning continues poisoning human health and our shared environment. Out of adversity comes opportunity. As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our consciences to support climate solutions that harness clean energy and bring justice to our most vulnerable here and around the world. Maryland UUs continue to be a powerful force within grassroots citizen campaigns. Now more than ever our help is needed to support clean energy, mitigate climate change and generate American jobs.
To Learn More and to Take Action:
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.
To read about the extent and success of wind power in Europe, go to this article published by the European Wind Energy Association.
Letter to the editor of the Washington Post about offshore wind in Maryland by Tom Carlson, Maryland campaign director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
"The Feb. 5 front-page article “Despite likely O’Malley win, wind project might not fly” underestimated the prospects for developing Maryland’s most abundant clean-energy resource.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2013 offshore wind bill represents Maryland’s piece of the puzzle for launching one of our region’s best available solutions to the global climate crisis. The bill is...Read more.
For additional information on these and other environmental issues, check out
UU UNO Climate Change Task Force
League of Conservation Voters
Union of Concerned Scientists
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
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.