The Dernogalizer

November 11, 2010

MD Offshore Wind now at Request for Interest Stage

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:54 am
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See the exciting press release below, and check out the MD Department of Natural Resources website about the entire stakeholder process to this point.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 8, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration today joined the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in announcing a significant step forward in bringing offshore wind power generation to Maryland’s coast. The federal government, which controls the Outer Continental Shelf, has accepted the planning recommendations of the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force and today issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in federal waters adjacent to Maryland’s Atlantic Coast.  Today’s announcement makes Maryland only the second state in the nation to reach this point in the process.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward for Maryland’s new economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By harnessing the outstanding wind resources off of Maryland’s coast, we can create thousands of green collar jobs, reduce harmful air pollution, and bring much needed, additional clean energy to Maryland.” (more…)

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October 27, 2010

My Offshore Wind Question for Governor O’Malley, and Candidate Ehrlich

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:28 pm
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I’m very pleased that the College Park Patch’s interview with Governor O’Malley started off by asking my question “Do you support offshore wind, and if so what will you do to make it a reality over these next four years”. Not only did Governor O’Malley answer the question in support of offshore wind and list steps he has taken, but he proceeded to discuss clean energy and energy efficiency policy for a full six minutes!  This is pretty good for an election where the the environment and clean energy policy has scarcely come up in debates or the media.  For more background on why O’Malley should be re-elected Governor, see my op-ed in the Diamondback from a few weeks ago.  On an even more positive note, the question after mine was about the Purple Line Light Rail.

Interestingly, my offshore wind question also was asked by the Patch to Ehrlich, although in a slightly different format.  He somehow starts at offshore wind and ends at drilling for oil in ANWAR.  See the video at the 2:25 mark…

 

October 20, 2010

Environment Maryland endorses Gov. O’Malley

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:20 am
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An excellent articulation by Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland on why it’s important that voters choose Martin O’Malley over Bob Ehrlich if they want to see progress on environmental issues such as the Chesapeake Bay.

October 4, 2010

MD Governor’s Race Op-Ed

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:56 am
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I have a column out today in the University of Maryland student newspaper about how if you’re a voter in Maryland and you care about the environment, the choice for governor is obvious.

Voting green: The choice is obvious

by Matt Dernoga

Monday, October 4, 2010

This state has a competitive gubernatorial election between current Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. At this university, the media and politicians like to talk about tuition. However, I’ve been engaging students on environmental issues for the last four years, and the majority either have an inclination to support environmental policies or actively promote them. The most concrete example of this is the 2007 SGA election referendum in which 91 percent of student voters approved a self-imposed green fee to offset carbon emissions.

If you care about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, creation of clean energy jobs and construction of the Purple Line, the best choice for governor is clearly O’Malley.

O’Malley has made some decisions that I don’t like, such as building the Intercounty Connector and supporting a weakening of stormwater regulations. But he has also supported and signed some of the most aggressive environmental legislation in the country, such as the Clean Cars Act of 2007, which reduces emissions from automobiles and increases fuel economy. Additionally, he entered the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with other northeastern states, an action that has forced coal companies to reduce their emissions and pay fines if they pollute.

O’Malley signed a Renewable Electricity Standard – which pledged that 20 percent of the state’s energy would come from renewable energy sources by 2022. He has accelerated a solar energy standard, improved the solar grant program and mandated that utility companies achieve a 15 percent reduction in per capita energy use by 2015. Furthermore, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act that was signed by O’Malley in 2009 mandates a 25 percent reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 – one of the strongest global warming laws in the nation. The governor has even just proposed $48 million for the Purple Line in his newest transportation budget proposal.

What about Bob Ehrlich? He says he’d “pull the plug” on O’Malley’s plan to build the Purple Line light rail. The halting of the Purple Line would have serious consequences, from affecting the improvement of College Park to reducing smart development and accessible transportation options for students. Ehrlich opposed the Clean Cars Act in 2005, and he raided funding for Program Open Space – a land conservation program in the state which O’Malley fully funded. Ehrlich killed efforts in 2003 to regulate the poultry industry’s harmful impact on the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, Ehrlich fired experienced staff at the state’s environmental agencies and appointed inexperienced industry insiders in their place – an auto-industry lawyer was head of the state Department of the Environment!

The ultimate difference between the two candidates is the distinction between offense and defense. Four more years of O’Malley will allow advocates in the state the opportunity to pass environmental laws and build on the victories from his first term. Electing Ehrlich will mean no opportunity for progress and a major fight to prevent the rollback of clean air, clean water and clean energy laws. Even the Purple Line would be dead.

I support a chance at progress. Young people cannot afford to sit on the sidelines for this election. Register to vote by Oct. 12, and either vote early from Oct. 22 to Oct. 28 at College Park Community Center (except Oct. 24), or Election Day on Nov. 2. Find out more at http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting.

Matt Dernoga is a graduate student in public policy. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com

July 27, 2010

Md., Del. ask feds to join wind energy pact, I say give us a strong RES too

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 12:12 am
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At the end of last week, Governor O’Malley of my state Maryland and the Delaware Governor Markell called for the Federal government to join them in offering to purchase offshore wind energy.  The rationale is pretty clear, a greater show of interest in purchasing the wind power from an entity as large as the feds means guaranteed demand for the wind energy developers, which means $$$.  This quote below from the article says it best

“By combining our market power with that of the federal government, we can drive demand for over one GW of offshore wind energy in the mid-Atlantic,” the governors wrote. “This would create the economies of scale necessary to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind development, attract manufacturers of offshore wind equipment and installation vessels, and develop high paying green jobs for our workers.”

Delaware officials already have authorized utilities to enter into long-term contracts for 230 megawatts of electricity from a planned wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth and Maryland has offered to buy 55 megawatts from the proposed 450 million watt project.

But the governors contend that a commitment to purchase one gigawatt of wind energy could be the catalyst for creation of a manufacturing base and supply chain that could bring up to 20,000 jobs to the region.

“If all we have is a wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth with parts that are made overseas, I think it will be a missed opportunity,” Markell told The Associated Press.

I question I have is, are the any policies other states, or the federal government itself should be pushing in improve the economic climate for offshore wind off the East Coast?  The article mentions a few actions

“In addition to soliciting federal participation in a power purchase agreement, O’Malley and Markell also called for better coordination among federal agencies on offshore wind issues and asked Obama to support legislative efforts to remove barriers to wind energy development. Among the goals they cited are increasing loan guarantees, extending production tax credits, streamlining the permitting process and allowing the General Services Administration to enter into power purchase agreements beyond 10 years.”

I like the loan guarantees and tax credits, and I wrote a column this past January about the need to streamline the permitting process for wind.

But what about activists in other states along the coast getting their states to make commitments to purchase wind power from an offshore farm?  What about the impact of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to increase demand for wind energy, and help make this offshore project more viable?  Right now, there’s a debate amongst Democrats in the US Senate on whether a renewable energy standard should be in the energy bill, now that climate legislation is out.  The debate can’t be able the abstract concept of an RES, it has to be able potential clean energy projects such as this one that need a shot in the arm from Congress.  Projects that are in the states of swing Senators are even better.

There’s a lot more we should be doing, and the Federal Government has already failed to place a price on carbon to make projects such as offshore wind more viable, but it’s good to see effort on the part of MD and DE to try and create demand for these wind products.

March 30, 2010

Bob Ehrlich Announces Run for Governor

Filed under: MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:58 pm
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Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich just told media today he was going to run against Governor O’Malley.

This certainly makes a lot more at stake in the fall elections for the Democrats and the Republicans.  I wonder how it will impact the turnout for the other expected tight race in the 1st Congressional District between Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris?

Stay tuned!  Maryland politics just got a lot more interesting.

January 22, 2010

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Endorse Governor O’Malley

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:47 pm
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I’ve always had a mixed opinion of O’Malley, strong on clean energy and global warming, but weak on development and land use policies(which inevitably impact the global warming bit).  Says the right things, and follows through on half of them.  I’ll give my thoughts on whether or not environmental groups should endorse him later in the year.  LCV has just endorsed him earlier than they have for any gubernatorial candidate.  Here is their press release.  You can also read pieces from The Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post.  Below are the accomplishments by O’Malley that MDLCV lays out in its press release.

· His leadership in the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, giving Maryland one of

the strongest global warming caps in the nation, and the creation of the Commission on Climate Change

have cemented our role as a national leader in this area.

· Governor O’Malley’s innovative Bay Stat program is a national model for accountability and shows

how government can work better to meet specific challenges.

· His ambitious plans to help reverse the long decline in the state’s historic role as an oyster mecca and his

work across state lines to address the frightening decline in the blue crab population was important and

long overdue.

· The public is receiving real financial incentives to embrace renewable energy sources such as solar

creating new clean energy job opportunities.

· An environmentally sensitive Purple Line in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Montgomery and Prince

George’s Counties and the Red Line in Baltimore are on the move to improve transportation, reduce

green house gas pollution and encourage smarter growth in Maryland.

· Exceptionally talented managers, including Maryland Department of the Environment Shari Wilson,

Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin and Secretary Richard Hall of the Department

of Planning have brought new energy, renewed and rewarded the conservation spirit of state officials

who have responsibility for the environment.

January 19, 2010

Governor O’Malley Makes a few Good Moves

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:34 am
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As much as I enjoy blasting O’Malley for building the ICC and trying to build uneconomical nuclear power, he’s indicated a few positive steps that will be taken on clean energy policy in the coming legislative session, which add up to progress.  Kudos to O’Malley for making these significant tweaks and adjustments in the tough economy.

O‘Malley proposes new energy policies:

The new energy agenda would:

  • Give tax credits on the state vehicle excise tax for residents to buy plug-in electric vehicles that are expected to start rolling onto dealership lots later this year. The state would propose a three-year tax credit capped at $2,000 per vehicle for each citizen or 10 employees per business entities. State officials estimate the costs to be $279,000 in fiscal 2011, and for revenue from the regional cap-and-trade market to offset those losses to the Transportation Trust Fund.
  • Speed up the state’s requirements for how much solar should be included in a utility’s power portfolio between 2011 and 2017. State leaders said the new requirements, which they said are more in line with active states like New Jersey and Delaware, hope this results in more residents and businesses opting for solar power over electricity generated from coal-fired plants.
  • Extend a state income tax credit that was otherwise to expire by the end of this year. The $25 million in tax credits, capped at $2.5 million per person, are reserved for residents who, in part, use electricity generated by an alternative qualified source costing 0.85 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Pushing Offshore Wind: “To attract a developer for an offshore wind farm, the governor wants to update the state’s coastal zoning rules. Such changes would ease the way for underground transmission lines to connect ocean-based wind production to the state’s grid. Also, modifications are needed to run a line under an eroding beach.

“We are trying to get our ducks in a row,” said Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “Let’s get our rules in place … so we don’t have litigation for years,” he said.”

Greening the Heritage Tax Credit: “Governor Martin O’Malley today announced plans to create the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program to propel smart and sustainable growth in historic areas and existing communities well-served by transit and infrastructure. The $50 million, three-year program will help create construction and rehabilitation jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and spur economic development with each project. The new program will replace and improve upon the 14-year-old Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, which is set to expire in June.”

July 17, 2009

Governor O’Malley’s good Op-Ed

I’ve asserted that I have some problems with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.  Many of his growth policies are killing the Chesapeake Bay, the ICC highway he didn’t stop is going to contribute a lot of greenhouse gases, and he’s raided very dollars he talks about in his op-ed that were supposed to go to energy efficiency, but went to rate relief.  All that said, I’m one to give credit were credit is due, and Governor O’Malley had a very good column out a couple dayhe s ago about how cap and trade can work at the Federal level because it’s working in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatve(RGGI), which Maryland is a part of.  I’m posting the column below.

America’s First Global Warming Cap and Trade Program Is Working, and Here’s Why

By Martin O’Malley

Posted July 14, 2009

Martin OMalley is governor of the state of Maryland.

As the debate over energy independence, climate change, and “green jobs” heats up this summer, Congress and the American public should take note one of the most significant accomplishments related to climate change to date and some of the lessons we’ve learned. In September 2008, 10 northeastern states, including Maryland, launched the United States’s first greenhouse gas “cap and trade system”—and it is working.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative requires carbon-producing power plants to purchase one allowance for each ton of carbon they emit. Each state auctions a share of allowances quarterly. The goal is reduced carbon emissions. How is carbon reduced? In two ways: First, the number of allowances decreases over time, so by 2018 we collectively reduce carbon from these power plants—a major source of greenhouse gases—by 10 percent. Second, proceeds from the sale of these allowances are plowed back into consumer benefits: energy efficiency programs, renewable energy, technology development, rate relief, and other programs that benefit energy consumers and create “green jobs.”

The result? Energy conservation and development of alternative energy is being funded at historically high levels—a commitment by this country that is long overdue. These include projects to weatherize low-income homes, hire and train energy auditors, deploy combined heat and power and district heating and cooling systems, subsidize energy efficiency improvement programs for small businesses, and educate contractors about energy efficiency and other initiatives.

Green jobs are clearly a key part of our future: The Pew Charitable Trust reported in June that the number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007. In Maryland, we have set a goal of creating at least 100,000 green jobs by 2015.

The No. 1 goal of this voluntary effort between Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont has always been to show that a market based cap and trade system can work. How do we know its working? Utilities that need allowances have robustly bid in the four auctions of allowances to date. A healthy secondary market for allowances has emerged. This all points to the markets’ recognition that this is a viable program with a foregone conclusion—America must reduce its carbon emissions. To date, $366.5 million in RGGI proceeds—earned in less than one year—have been generated for clean energy, energy conservation, and rate relief.

There are some key differences between this program and what’s being proposed in Washington. The regional initiative regulates electricity generated by fossil fuels, where federal legislation covers other sectors as well. And the regional program is entirely a market-based system, with auctions of over 90 percent of allowances; proposed federal legislation will auction 15 percent of allowances. While we work on these important features of federal climate and energy policy, let’s keep what is most important at the fore.

As the U.S. Senate looks to build on work already done in the House of Representatives to secure national energy independence, create a sustainable energy future, reduce the threat of climate change, and create net benefits for electricity consumers, let’s look hard at what’s already working. The states in the Northeast have proven it can be done. In these times of great challenges, we have to be willing to embrace the new economy—and to act now for that more sustainable future all of us prefer.

Let’s also learn from our experience. Cap and trade is a proven, efficient, market-based approach to solving one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.

April 6, 2009

Metro Cuts to affect University of Maryland

Filed under: MD Politics,transportation — Matt Dernoga @ 12:07 am
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the sad state of our Metro....

the sad state of our Metro....

I can’t say I’m surprised that these cuts were coming considering the size of the state’s deficit, and Governor O’Malleys determination to move forward with the InterCounty Connector. I got a press release in my e-mail today about how the Metro cuts are going to affect students at my college, and will make it more difficult for us to be mobile without using a car.  However, in my opinion this is more than just about how myself and fellow students are being impacted by O’Malley’s ridiculous decisions, it should be an outrage to communites all across the state that Metro is being cut.  This is despite the fact that with these tough economic times, mass transit ridership and demand is higher than ever, and gas prices are likely to go back up once the economy recovers.  I’ve never quite understood Governor O’Malley, because he seems to understand global warming, and he understands the need for clean energy, but when it comes to our transportation system and reducing sprawl, I’ve never seen this kind of incompetence on all levels.  Just last week, he announced the creation of a Maryland Clean Energy Center in Montgomery County, but put it in a place where there was no transit access, so now people have to drive to get to the clean energy center.  Good grief!   Below is the press release on these recent cuts by the Transit First! Coalition, as well as a link to a more detailed press release

link: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/files/2009/transitfirst20090402.pdf

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2009
Source: Transit First! Coalition

For information contact:
Ben Ross, 301-706-6826

PROPOSED METRO CUTS THREATEN UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

Proposed cuts in Metro service would have a severe effect on the
University of Maryland campus in College Park, transit advocates
pointed out today.

Metrobus route C8, which runs from College Park Metro to White Flint
via Campus Drive, would run only in rush hour under the proposed
Metro budget.  A rush-hour-only bus is of little use to students, who
rarely follow a 9-to-5 schedule.

Route R3, which runs from Fort Totten to Greenbelt via Adelphi Road
and Metzerott Road, would be canceled entirely.

The Transit First! Coalition, composed of transit rider, environmental,
and labor organizations, has called on Governor Martin O’Malley to
provide the funds needed to avoid drastic service cuts in suburban
Maryland. The group urged the governor to match the additional Metro
funding commitment made by D.C. and local Virginia jurisdictions.  The
Transit First! plan to fill the gap in Metro’s budget and avoid service
cuts is here:
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/files/2009/transitfirst20090402.pdf

“It makes no sense to cut service when people are driving less and
riding transit more,” said Ben Ross, coalition chair and president of
Action Committee for Transit.  “More transit, not less, is required to
protect our environment and to create a sustainable economic recovery.”

Metro will hold two public hearings on these cuts.  Transit First!
urged transit supporters, especially those who will be directly
affected by these cuts, to attend and speak out.  The hearings will be:
* Monday, April 13, 6:30 pm, at First United Methodist Church, 6201
Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, near Prince George’s Plaza Metro.
* Tuesday, April 14, 6:30 pm, at First Baptist Church of Wheaton,
10914 Georgia Ave., near Wheaton Metro.

Emails opposing the cuts can be sent to Maryland Secretary of
Transportation John Porcari at secretary@mdot.state.md.us .

Members of Transit First! are the Action Committee for Transit,
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Audubon Naturalist Society, Clean
Water Action, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Greater Greater Washington,
MCGEO—UFCW Local 1994, Prince George’s Advocates for Community-based
Transit, Progressive Maryland, Save Maryland Area Rail Transit.  The
coalition is chaired by Action Committee for Transit president Ben Ross;
vice-chairs are David Alpert, editor of the Greater Greater Washington
blog, and Jason Rylander, Arlington environmental lawyer and transit
activist.

-end-

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