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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Windpower in Maryland

      I have blogged before about the fracking in Northeastern Pennsylvania that has transformed the area into a boomtown area with gas companies drilling and water tanks many rural roads.  While this effort is controversial with environmentalist questioning the pollution of rural water supplies another energy production is occurring in the State that is less environmentally damaging.   Pennsylvania has been  aggressively pursuing wind energy all over the State on the top of its many mountains.  Called ChoosePAWind it has a goal of generating over 6% of its energy usage with wind energy from its present 1%.  Currently the energy produced by wind in PA is enough to power the needs of 240,000 homes with the eventual goal of over a million homes powered in the future.  The picture above are the windmills at the Bear Creek exit of Interstate 81 near Wilkes-Barre.
     An often overlooked advantage of generating energy with solar and wind are that the areas generating the power are more likely to be the ones to use the energy created than with oil or coal that enter the global marketplace.  The United States Energy Information Administration indicated that:
" The U.S. became a (slight) net exporter (exported more than we imported) of refined petroleum products in 2008. Refined petroleum products produced in the U.S. from both domestic and imported crude oil are exported to other countries."
      Also from the Energy Information Administration:
" Exports drove gains in production, as U.S. coal shipments to other countries climbed to their highest level in two decades, while domestic coal consumption for electricity generation fell."
       The next time you come out the Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore look at the huge piles of coal waiting to be placed on ships going overseas.  What you are looking at is CONSOL Energy's 150,000 ton mountains of coal ready for loading on ships for export.  This contrasts with the limited transmission lines for solar and wind directing almost all of that energy a short distance from its source.  There aren't any tranmission lines to China.
      The efforts to explore wind energy in Maryland have been mostly centered around the mountains in Western Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay and offshore near Ocean City.  The Maryland Reporter has reported that efforts to increase energy resources in the Maryland Legislature has broken down into the normal partisan divide with Democrats pushing wind energy and Republicans favoring fracking for natural gas.  This deadlock has been occurring at a time that Maryland imports over 30% of its energy usage from other states.  Only four other states import more of their energy usage.  Something to remember the next time you pay a premium on your energy bill for this out of state energy supply.

Upcoming Events Sponsored by Howard County Climate Change:
Sat, Oct. 20, 2 p.m.: Climate Reality Project Presentation at Miller Library. Learn the facts of the climate crisis and the links between climate change and the extreme weather. The Climate Reality Project focuses on engaging the public in conversation about how to solve the climate crisis. Presenter Florence Miller is a health educator/gerontologist involved in environmental advocacy and a member of CCIHC.
Sun, Oct. 21, 2 - 4:30 p.m.: Earth Forum of Howard County – “Water for Tomorrow” at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle, Columbia. How can we assure that we and future generations will have life-sustaining water? Howard County Storm Water Manager James Caldwell will discuss water challenges and detail the coming transformation in water use, conservation and cleanup in county neighborhoods and on your rooftop. For more information: 410-730-3545 or  


     Post debate comment.  I was disappointed but not surprised that each candidate avoid offending the NRA with their comments on an assault weapons ban.  The NRA has such a hold on every elected official and candidate that we will never have a sane policy on assault weapons in this country and mass shootings with assault weapons are the price we will continue to pay.

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