The Dernogalizer

October 13, 2010

Sierra Club: Lying About Coal is Expensive

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 4:14 pm
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A recent Sierra Club video on the damage done by coal over its lifecycle


August 3, 2010

Maryland Sierra Club Endorses Mary Lehman for County Council

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:47 am
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Given the fact that I’m managing Mary Lehman’s campaign for Prince George’s County Council, District 1, it was great to see the Maryland Sierra Club endorse Mary for the seat.  Although I’m on the Prince George’s Sierra Club’s political committee, I abstained from all of the club’s conversations and interviews regarding this race.  Our campaign is putting out a press release to local reporters about the good news.  I’ve posted it below, and it will be up on her website shortly.

Maryland Sierra Club Endorses Mary Lehman for County Council

Lehman “honored” to be endorsed by one of the state’s leading environmental organizations

August 3, 2010

Contact:  Matt Dernoga, Campaign Manager: 240-593-1268

College Park, Md- One of the state’s most influential and effective environmental organizations, the Maryland Sierra Club, has endorsed Mary Lehman for Prince George’s County Council in District 1.

Lehman is one of five candidates running for the seat being vacated by Councilman Tom Dernoga due to term limits.

“In Mary, we will have a friend on the council willing to listen, understand and act” said Suchitra Balachandran, a member of the Sierra Club’s Prince George’s County Political Committee that interviewed Mary. “I have seen her efficiency and approachability on environmental issues as Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk’s (D-21) aide in Annapolis” she added.  Balachandran also cited Mary’s 20 years in civic activism, including the consistent and principled stand of the civic organization she presided over against the $4 billion ICC highway, as justification for the endorsement.

Fred Tutman, a local watershed activist, said “Mary has been proactive in her support for watershed, environmental and quality of life issues.  I think highly of Mary’s honesty, command of the issues, and her good faith toward civic and environmental causes.  I think she would be terrific on the County Council”

“I am honored to receive this endorsement,” said Lehman, “If elected, I will work hard to focus development around Metro stations, pass green building standards into law, protect our waterways, and green our existing school buildings through renovation.  By working with environmentalists around Prince George’s County, we can accomplish great things.”

Mary has already been endorsed by the outgoing Dernoga, who championed environmental issues during his nine years on the council. She worked for Dernoga for four years.

There are over 1,000 Sierra Club members in Prince George’s County, and 15,000 in Maryland.


For more about Mary Lehman see

July 29, 2010

Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Maryland Sierra Club Endorse Judd Legum For Delegate

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:35 pm
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One of the key races I mentioned in my earlier post about the Maryland League of Conservation Voters endorsements is Judd Legum for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 30.  Although I don’t know Judd personally, I’ve been impressed both with his strong words on the need to stand up to special interests and protect the Chesapeake Bay, and his sincere believe that we need to do something about global warming.

I did a blog post about a climate denial resolution in the Maryland General Assembly, and Republican Delegate Ron George of the 30th District co-sponsored it.  Judd rightfully criticized George for this move, and started a petition for people to call out George’s foolishness.  Here is an excerpt from his petition.

“A few days ago, Delegate Ron George co-sponsored a resolution in Maryland’s General Assembly stating that climate change is a “conspiracy” and urging the Environmental Protection Agency to “immediately halt” all efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Besides ignoring the overwhelming consensus among the world’s climate scientists, George is advancing a position with disastrous consequences locally for the Chesapeake Bay:

– Increased carbon dioxide concentrations can increase algae blooms, which are the source of large “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay. [Source]

– Many of the most effective agricultural practices to sequester carbon — such as forest buffers, no-till farming and cover crops — are also essential to improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. [Source]

In a time of economic challenge, Maryland can’t afford to allow the Chesapeake Bay to continue to degrade. The Bay is Maryland’s most valuable economic resource: driving commerce, buttressing property values and attracting tourists.

We need to dispense with far-right ideology and focus on our shared goals in Maryland.

It’s clear to me Judd gets global warming, he understands the solutions, and he knows the stakes.  That’s why you should vote for him, or visit his campaign website and look for other ways to help out.  Below is the press release on the endorsements.

Annapolis, Md. – Today, two of the state’s leading environmental organizations, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, endorsed Judd Legum for the House of Delegates in District 30.

Legum is the only challenger not running for an open House seat to be endorsed by both organizations.

“Judd Legum is an exciting new leader who will bring fresh energy and perspective to the General Assembly and the fight to restore the Chesapeake Bay and protect our natural resources,” said Cindy Schwartz, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation voters, “We are impressed with his understanding of and commitment to environmental issues. The Maryland League of Conservation Voters enthusiastically endorses his candidacy.”

David Prosten, chair of the Anne Arundel Sierra Club, said, “Judd Legum has a thoughtful and well-articulated understanding of environmental issues and clearly views the health of the Bay and its tributaries as a top priority. He understands the nexus of land use, transportation and other concerns that have an impact on our quality of life. He deserves the support of every voter.”

“I’m running because the next four years represent the best – and possibly last – chance to make real progress in restoring the Chesapeake Bay to health,” said Legum, “I’m proud to have the support of two organizations who care so deeply and work so hard to protect the Bay and our environment.”

Legum is currently an Annapolis Representative to the Severn River Commission, a joint body of the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, charged with providing advice to protect the Severn River Watershed.

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Maryland Sierra Club represent tens of thousands of members throughout Maryland.

July 8, 2010

Protect Communities From Coal Ash

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:10 pm
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A Sierra Club video on the need for the EPA to regulate coal ash from plants because of its dangerous health impacts.

July 20, 2009

Down with PATH

Filed under: Energy/Climate,environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:01 pm
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I had a column opposing the Potamac Appalachian Transmission Highline(PATH) last December.  These massive transmission lines from the Midwest and Appalachia would transport coal power to Maryland and other northeast states.  Bad news when you’re trying to reduce your state’s carbon footprint.  My friend Alana Wase at the Sierra Club had a column out a couple weeks ago which echoed these sentiments and tactfully rebutted a pro-PATH column which had been published.  I’m reposting her column below.

Let’s not take the wrong path to clean, reliable energy

In response to the letter written by H. Russell Frisby in the June 4 edition of The Gazette (“PATH is the sensible, high tech solution critical to our region”):

Let’s assume it’s a hot sunny day in July.

The demand on our region’s electric transmission grid is at its peak, and it is operating at full capacity from wind generated power off the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The air is clean and the rivers running through Frederick County and into the Chesapeake Bay are pure; safe to swim in, fish in and even eat one’s catch without worrying about mercury and other toxins.

There are no intrusive transmission line towers tainting the aesthetics of Western Maryland’s great forests and mountains to deliver dirty energy from West Virginia to Baltimore.

Instead, the energy is derived near population centers and from clean renewable energy — wind, just off the coast.

This scenario is clearly in the future, and it’s the direction we want to move in, but what is at stake is just how soon we will make the transition to clean energy.

The Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) is a proposed high-voltage transmission line intended to import coal fired power from the coal-rich Midwest and Appalachia into Maryland and other eastern states.

The line is proposed to begin near the John Amos power plant in West Virginia and terminate at a new substation in Frederick County. The Amos coal fired power plant ranks among the worst emitters of sulfur dioxide, mercury and global warming pollution in the nation.

And, as the proponents of PATH have themselves admitted, PATH would enable Amos and many other coal plants in the region to ramp up their operations to export electricity east. As these plants increase their output, they would spew even more of these harmful pollutants.

Quite the opposite of the serene scene described above.

Imagine, if PATH were built, what that would do to our chances of scaling up renewable energy production in Maryland. PATH is a multibillion dollar venture in the wrong direction. At a time when smart investors are looking toward clean energy, this investment will instead lock the region into dependence on coal-fired energy for years to come.

Maryland is doing its part in Annapolis to make clean renewable energy a reality.

With the passage of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act this year, the state must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

In order to meet these standards, we have to get serious about wind and solar. And yet, PATH would do just the opposite. Not only would PATH lead to increased generation from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest and Appalachia, it would also discourage the development of local, renewable generation here in Maryland.

Perhaps the worst part of the lies being used to sell this deal to consumers is the fear of blackouts, suggesting PATH must be built or else we won’t have electricity.

This is contradictory to Baltimore Gas and Electric, Maryland’s largest utility company. According to the company’s 10-year plan to the Public Service Commission of Maryland, they report no increase in peak demand, and in fact show a slight decrease over the next 10 years.

Where is the need for new coal-fired power? There isn’t one.

PATH is a scheme to rake in billions of dollars for its creators by giving them access to energy markets in Baltimore where electricity rates are four times higher than in West Virginia, all while rate payers would bear the cost of construction of the line.

PATH is not the passageway to the clean energy future, but rather, a dead end — more pollution, more asthma, and more global warming.

We can and must do better.

Alana Wase, College Park

The writer is Conservation Program Coordinator for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

December 17, 2008

Piece in Sierra Club Chesapeake Newsletter

Filed under: Dernoga,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:51 pm
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So I wanted to share an article I wrote for the Maryland Sierra Club’s seasonal newsletter The Chesapeake.  I worked as a summer intern(and helped into the fall) on a Congressional election in the 1st Distrct of Maryland.  The race was between Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris.  I wrote this shortly after my guy Kratovil was declared the winner after the absentee ballot count.  Check it out Here, and I’m also posting what I wrote below.

Hey Sierra Club members, as some of you may know, there was a very close contest in the 1st Congressional District of Maryland. The Sierra Club endorsed Frank Kratovil in his face off against long time environmental foe State Senator Andy Harris. At the beginning of the year and into the summer Frank Kratovil was trailing Andy Harris by double digits in the polls. The Harris campaign had lots of special interest money and resources. All of the political pundits that rank races by competitiveness all around the country labeled the seat as “safe” for Andy Harris’s taking. At one point I read that Andy Harris had said that the 1st district was one that a conservative could win every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Frank Kratovil has just been declared by the AP to be the winner after an absentee ballot count added significantly to his narrow vote lead. As Kratovil said when addressing supporters Tuesday night “this might not be a Sunday”.

What’s fantastic about this race being so close, is that I watched the Sierra Club make a difference. I oversaw, and coordinated many of our efforts over the summer, working as an intern from our College Park office. Without getting too deep into the tax code and how my number one priority was to not violate it and earn us a day in court with IRS, lets just say doing outreach was interesting. Our rules had it to where I couldn’t talk to anyone about voting for Frank besides our members and my mother. Okay I couldn’t talk to my mother either. Every action and breath I took had to be run through our national compliance office to make sure the rules were followed. I don’t like rules, but I liked the Sierra Club so I played along. I gained from this an infinite amount of respect for our Sierra Club organizers and leaders who have to do so much with so many rules, and such little money. They could teach Wall Street a thing or two.

We did a pretty good job at contacting our members and getting them involved. Throughout the summer myself and volunteers made thousands of phone calls to our members in the 1st District. We asked people a few simple things. One was whether or not they knew about the race, and who we had endorsed. The other was whether or not they would vote for Kratovil, wanted a sign in their yard, or wanted to write a letter to the editor supporting him. My reasoning behind this was that if we could get people involved on a small level, aware of the race, thinking about the race, talking about the race, following the race in the news…we could get them more involved later on when they were really needed. In the later months when the race was tight and canvassing and phone banking opportunities were everywhere, we’d know who to call. Of course, when we found very enthusiastic people, we’d try and plug them into Kratovil campaign activities(and boy were there a lot of them) right away!
I was inexperienced at a lot of this when it came to outreach for an election. I made a lot of the strategy up as I went along, and probably made some mistakes. But the key part of our strategy I was counting on came to fruition in the end. The race tightened, people got enthusiastic and pumped up, and the Sierra Club had a nice list of people to call and tap into. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d estimate we collectively made over 1,000 phone calls and canvassed over 1,000 doors just in the last two months. It paid off.

But the real heroine in the last couple months has been the Sierra Club’s Conservation Coordinator Alana Wase. Thanks to an anonymous donor(I know who you are, thanks!), we could afford to set Alana loose right at the same time I had to go back to school, so I got to just become another volunteer assisting her. She’s really responsible for our most productive moments, and deserves far more credit than me. I’d also like to give special thanks to Janet Schollenberger for all the work she did with outreach to Baltimore County group. David Prosten for helping with Anne Arundel, and tolerating the phone scripts I gave him and his group. Betsy Johnson for making phone calls, and telling me I was doing a good job even when that may not have been entirely true. Laurel Imlay for showing me how to do things competently, and for lending me her mother for a phone banking session(best phone banker ever).

And of course, to everyone else I don’t have the space or memory to name. Those who agreed to canvass, make calls, give your time, your money, and your vote, thanks a million. We just helped Frank Kratovil pull off one of the biggest upsets in this election cycle in the country. We taught Andy Harris that if you vote against the environment, there will be consequences. It goes to show that nothing it set in stone. Nothing is a done deal. All it takes is for a group of people to believe, roll up their sleeves, and go to work. That’s what the Sierra Club is all about.

November 23, 2008

Kratovil Victory Party!

Filed under: Dernoga,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:50 am
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Here’s some photos of myself, Alana, and fellow Sierra Club people meeting some of Maryland’s political bigshots. I also met Governor O’Malley, but didn’t get a picture. Maybe it’s that my eyes are green, but I look possessed in every picture.

November 17, 2008

Action Against Coal, Politician Galore, and CCAN Retreat

So I should have pictures and press hits being linked eventually for everything I was a part of Fri-Sun. First I joined some people in protesting in front of the Bank of America since their bank has funded coal companies performing mountaintop removal to the tune of 6 billion dollars since 2001. We delivered letters from concerned students, and then did a “die-in” in front of the bank where we pretended to be dead/dying to symbolize the thousands of lives that coal and coal mining ruins and kills every year. There was a good deal of media there, and it was an interesting event. I’ve never protested anything like that, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Then Friday night I went to a Frank Kratovil victory party to celebrate, and get a picture of him with my Sierra Club buddies. So I met Kratovil, got to talk with him, and we got our pic taken with him as he wore a Sierra Club hat that said on it “here to save the planet”. Then, I realized that there were all sorts of big names in the house. I had the privilege of talking to Ben Cardin, Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Rupersberger, soon to be leaving Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, and Governor O’Malley. All of my conversations went well except the O’Malley one, the Cardin one went real good. O’Malley didn’t seem to be too polite to be honest, but after thanking him for his support for the Global Warming Solutions Act, I told him in my opinion he should discontinue funding the ICC, and he pretty flatly and without elaboration said no. Not that I expected much different.

Then this weekend I went on a retreat held by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, where I met a lot of great activists, networked with people, talked about the climate movement, and did some planning for the winter and spring to achieve objectives. I had a great time, and I got to talk with Mike Tidwell too. I also got to give a speech about what students were doing.

So there will be pictures and press from some of this. Definitely pictures of some of my run-ins with the politicians to prove all this actually happened. Quite an exciting weekend!

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