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Commentary Energy & Environment

Opinion: More than consumer choice

A flag waves on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, near the State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

By Mike O’Halloran

The writer represents the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association — a trade group of energy marketers and convenience store owners and operators.

Maryland, for years, has been at the forefront of environmental stewardship. That is the direct result of engaged stakeholders from every industry and the product of thoughtful, measured approaches to the state’s energy policies.

Recently, however, some groups are pushing very hard towards a sole source energy policy — electricity.

Such a policy is not only costly but it’s dangerous.

These groups mounted an unsuccessful campaign last year to ban the use of liquid fuels in our homes and office buildings. But the legislature understood that Marylanders depend on heating oil, propane, and renewable fuels to heat their homes, cook their food, and more.

Yet despite the General Assembly rejecting a ban on these vital energy sources, the same groups are back and continuing their efforts to electrify everything; not just our homes, schools, offices, and businesses, but the cars we drive, the trucks that deliver our food and medical supplies and the school buses our students take to school too.

The fact is our electric grid cannot handle the demand these groups are trying to force on it. On top of that, our grid is becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks. And the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Members of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association (MAPDA) provide a required and necessary energy, directly and as a backup source, to key institutions like colleges, schools, hospitals, farms, military bases, and more. They are small and family-owned businesses employing hundreds of Marylanders and supplying thousands of customers with the fuel that keeps them warm, fed, and on the road.

Our members are also taking steps to improve their environmental impact and increase efficiency. The home heating oil industry is testing products that are 100% renewable with the national standards being written as we speak. Members in the propane industry are deploying propane-powered vehicles that produce 21% less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional diesel-powered vehicles. For decades, these industries have met and exceeded the goals that are set for them and they will continue to invest in improving our air quality.

Aside from the importance and promise of our industries, Marylanders reject the idea of a sole source energy policy. A Gonzales poll taken in January for MAPDA found that 73% of registered voters oppose a ban on the sale of new cars and trucks in Maryland powered by gasoline or diesel. Additionally, 69% opposed the state requiring only electricity be used for cooking and heating in new construction.

MAPDA will continue to stress the importance of a diverse and balanced energy portfolio in Maryland. Our industries have been investing in product development, logistics, and infrastructure for over 150 years and will continue to. Considering these assets and investments negligible would be a monumental oversight. Worse, it would put Marylanders at an unnecessary risk.


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Opinion: More than consumer choice