Opinion: Calling on All Legislative Candidates to Embrace 100 Percent Renewable Energy
On Aug. 7, our competitor in Baltimore City’s 45th legislative district, Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D), published an article in Maryland Matters calling for 50 percent of Maryland’s energy to come from clean, safe, and renewable sources by an unspecified date in the future.
As Green Party candidates this issue is of particular interest to us. With the dangerous impacts of climate change set to increasingly harm Marylanders – and specifically poor Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native Americans in our state — 50 percent just isn’t good enough. We need to pass a 100 percent Renewable Energy Portfolio in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session, and if elected, we will fight to do just that.
States around the country and countries around the world are increasingly implementing ambitious 100 percent renewable energy goals. Poor countries like Nicaragua already receive all of their energy from safe, renewable sources. Massachusetts, California and Hawai’i are making great strides in that direction. There is no reason why Maryland, the richest state in the wealthiest nation in the world, should set the bar so low.
We agree with Del. Glenn that environmental goals should be directly tied to economic growth in communities that have been harmed most by environmental racism. Glenn Ross has for years led Toxic Tours of East Baltimore, exposing how Eastside Democratic politicians have looked the other way while polluters have poisoned our communities, failing to hold them accountable for the public health, environmental, and economic impact of their racist behavior.
It is exactly communities like Ross’s that stand to benefit most from environmental justice legislation in Annapolis next year, and it is exactly for that reason that we must push for a 100 percent Renewable Energy Portfolio, not just 50 percent. Baltimore’s deep water port and existing industrial infrastructure puts us in a prime position to become a manufacturing hub for green energy technology like windmills and solar arrays in the state of Maryland and the entire East Coast.
Jobs in the renewable energy sector pay well and are accessible to many Baltimore and Maryland residents. The Department of Energy estimates that jobs associated with offshore wind average over $140,000 a year in income. It is worth noting that Glenn’s slatemate and the majority whip in the House of Delegates, Talmadge Branch, took his largest reported individual contribution in 2018 from Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist hired by Ocean City to fight against offshore wind projects.
It is also worth noting that in each of the last three years, Branch has taken campaign contributions from Dominion PAC, the Political Action Committee for Dominion Energy that operates the Liquid Natural Gas Export Plant at Cove Point, Md., which is a terminal for a growing web of pipelines built for fracked gas throughout the state of Maryland. Fifty percent is a failing grade. It benefits paid advocacy organizations who can notch a sizable win and come back in a few years to notch another one.
Mostly, it benefits entrenched politicians like Glenn and Branch, who can use this unacceptably slow process to exert their leverage on the same organizations — and more importantly, on our communities — time and time again. These business as usual Annapolis games are bad for the people and communities of the 45th district and all Marylanders. It is time for them to stop.
Organizations, advocates, and candidates in this fall’s general election must publicly endorse a 100 percent Renewable Energy Portfolio if they are serious about achieving climate justice and bringing green jobs home to our communities. Marginalized Marylanders, and our climate, can’t afford to wait.
— Steve “Andy” Ellis and Glenn L. Ross
The authors are Green Party candidates for the House of Delegates in Baltimore City’s 45th District.