A year ago, I wrote a column opposing transmission lines that would take coal burned in West Virginia, and transport it into my state of Maryland as a source of power. I also highlighted a column by the Maryland Sierra Club this past summer which continued opposition to the transmission lines. The battle over these lines is heating up, and with Maryland environmentalists preparing for a big rally in opposition on Dec 1st, there is a good opportunity to stop the two transmission line proposals, “MAPP” and “PATH” in their tracks. I have a column coming out tomorrow about the issue where I’ll be plugging the rally. By coincidence, another student at our school has a guest column out today opposing MAPP and PATH, and plugging the rally. This is great, now there will be back to back columns alerting students about the danger of importing coal power on our state’s environmental and economic well-being. I’m re-posting the column today below.
Guest column: Toppling King Coal
By Krishna Amin
This state is one of the most forward-thinking in the nation in producing clean energy laws. With Gov. Martin O’Malley’s leadership on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, the state government has taken a huge, culminating step forward in addressing the threat of global warming. However, with this one step forward, the state could be taking an equally or even greater step backward if the state government and Public Service Commission approves of the new ultra high-voltage power lines, the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway and the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline, from Delaware and West Virginia, respectively. These power lines are designed to carry electricity from coal plants to produce more power and are to pass through this state. If more coal-fired power is imported into the state through these power lines, the greenhouse gas reductions that GGRA is aimed to save would be deterred by increased emissions from the dirty energy-producing power plants. Instead of subsidizing dirty coal energy, the state should be encouraging an investment in clean energy and energy efficiency for the future.
These power lines, particularly MAPP, would bisect a sector of the Eastern Shore known for its environmental resources. This would jeopardize land with some of the most productive agricultural soils, forests with the highest carbon sequestration rates and the habitat of the highest concentration of endangered species on the Eastern Shore.
Furthermore, it would also have both aesthetic and environmental impacts on a few of the state’s greatest cultural resources, such as the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, as well as the proposed site for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park.
If dirty energy projects such as MAPP and PATH gain approval, then in the near future coal production will start to dwindle, the price of coal energy will inflate and state customers will be stuck paying high prices for an obsolete energy source while trying to find alternative energy solutions.
Rather than enabling energy production from dirty coal, the government should be focused on alternate options for energy that are renewable and do not have to be imported. This is why here on the campus, MaryPIRG has teamed up with Environment Maryland, the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to organize a “Down with King Coal!” campaign. Did you see those one-word flyers around the campus this week? MaryPIRG is working to raise awareness of the need to oppose plans for these power lines. We think in order to influence the public service commissions’ decisions, the governor should come out publicly in opposition to the power lines. The campaign has organized a rally to not only show public opposition to the power lines but also reinforce state residents’ commitment to clean energy solutions. The rally will be Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. in Preston Gardens Park in Baltimore. Join us in saying “Down with King Coal!”
Krishna Amin is a junior biochemistry major. She can be reached at krish121 at umd dot edu.