Mary­land must lead on re­new­able en­ergy

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Mitch Jones The writer is a se­nior pol­icy ad­vo­cate at Food & Wa­ter Watch.

In his opin­ion piece, Tom Firey stated that Del. Shane Robin­son is in­tro­duc­ing a bill for 100 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy in 2050 (“Md. re­new­able en­ergy man­dates: Cor­po­rate wel­fare dis­guised as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism”, Sept. 27). This is wrong. Del­e­gate Robin­son’s bill will re­quire 100 per­cent clean en­ergy by 2035. But most im­por­tantly, Mr. Firey missed that this leg­is­la­tion will strip out dirty forms of en­ergy cur­rently al­lowed un­der Mary­land’s Re­new­able Port­fo­lio Stan­dard. Thus, when this bill be­comes law, Mary­land res­i­dents will have power sourced from only clean en­ergy — wind and so­lar — not coal, nat­u­ral gas, nor “trash, biomass, meth­ane and ma­nure.” (I ad­mit to be­ing some­what puz­zled by Mr. Firey’s in­clu­sion of meth­ane in his list of dirty al­ter­na­tives to nat­u­ral gas given that nat­u­ral gas is pri­mar­ily meth­ane, but I agree that it should not be con­sid­ered a clean en­ergy source in Mary­land.)

A study re­quested by En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry con­cluded that re­new­able elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion is not a threat to grid re­li­a­bil­ity. It is pos­si­ble Sec­re­tary Perry was not sur­prised by the re­sult since as gover­nor of Texas he is used to a state elec­tri­cal grid with a high level of re­new­able gen­er­a­tion. Mr. Firey’s claims about the cost of wind and so­lar en­ergy are also mis­lead­ing. Both the De­part­ment of En­ergy and Lazard agree that wind and util­ity-scale so­lar are al­ready cost-com­pet­i­tive with fos­sil fu­els — and in many in­stances, are cheaper. Mr. Firey’s fa­vored plan of a car­bon tax hap­pens to also be the fa­vored plan of such ma­jor pol­luters as Exxon. The rea­son for this is clear: un­der a car­bon tax ma­jor pol­luters can keep on pol­lut­ing with im­punity as long as they are will­ing to pay for it. The car­bon tax poses no threat to their busi­ness model and en­ables them to keep up with busi­ness as usual for decades to come.

But we can’t af­ford decades more of busi­ness as usual. The in­creas­ing in­ten­sity of storms and ris­ing sea lev­els pose a real threat to Mary­lan­ders. That’s why the lib­er­tar­ian car­bon tax pushed by the Cato In­sti­tute is the wrong ap­proach and Del­e­gate Robin­son’s is the right one for Mary­land.

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