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November 2, 2011

UM study finds MD climate law no drag on economy

Maryland's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by the end of the decade shouldn't cost the state any jobs, and may actually trigger new "green" employment, a pair of new studies say.

The two reports by the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research were commissioned by the state Department of the Environment, which is required under the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act to produce a draft plan by the end of this year for how to curb climate-altering carbon dioxide and other gases.

The legislature, in approving the law nearly three years ago, ordered the administration to show through independent studies that the effort wouldn't hurt the reliability of the state's electricity supply or hurt manufacturing.  Since then, the economy has tanked, Congress balked at adopting any climate-change legislation, and federal regulatory efforts to deal with greenhouse gases have slowed under fire from those who contend they'll hurt an already slumping economy.

The two UM reports conclude that in Maryland, at least, the effort to cut back climate-harming emissions would improve the availability of power, if anything, and that there would be no significant harm done to manufacturing or to the economy in general.

"We've tried really hard to find all kinds of ways in which, especially during this downturn in the economy, we could take a serious look at this and say, 'Where can it hurt us?'" said Matthias Ruth, director of the UM center.  "And we couldn't find it."


MDE is still working on its draft plan for reducing greenhouse gases, according to spokesman Jay Apperson.  A commission appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley three years ago proposed a menu of 42 different actions the state could take to mitigate its impact on global climate change. 

UM researchers, in partnership with scholars from Towson University's Regional Economic Studies Institute and Johns Hopkins University, focused on three initiatives already under way - the legislated mandate to produce 20 percent of the state's power using sources other than fossil fuels; the Norheast's interstate compact to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and the state's incentives promoting energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

"We expect some jobs to be created," Ruth said, in "green" businesses like building weatherization and even in manufacturing of wind turbine components.  And while electricity costs are expected to go up at least a little at first as a result of regulations on coal-burning power plants and to suport wind and solar power, but the UM studies concluded those will not be significant drags on manufacturing, which has already been in a long-term decline.

Ruth said the climate effort "is just going to be a little blip in the overall trend" in manufacturing.

Whether that will satisfy climate skeptics or critics of government regulation remains to be seen.  Maryland lawmakers will have a chance to review and debate the draft plan next year.   New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie recently pulled his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, saying he doubted its efficacy in dealing with a global climate change.  Maryland's O'Malley publicly differed with him over that, arguing that state action is called for, even in the absence of clear federal initiative.

"On the contrary, if you want to be bold," said Ruth, "this is the time to get ahead of the curve" even as some are holding back. The nation and the world ultimately are going to have to shift away from fossil fuels, for a variety of reasons, and nations and states that recognize that will come out ahead, he argued.

"We'll build an industry and an infrastructure that's more in tune with the world in which we'll live than the one we come out from," Ruth said.

Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat who was chief sponsor of the law, said he wasn't surprised by the studies' findings.

"We can start to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and still grow the economy," he said, contrary to critics who've contended it will cost jobs.  He acknowledged that Maryland acting alone won't move the needle on climate change, but "at least we make a dent in it."  He said he still hopes a new Congress or other states will follow Maryland's lead.

To read the reports, go here.  To see the plan proposed by the state Climate Action Commission, go here.

Posted by Tim Wheeler at 1:08 PM | | Comments (1)


INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES DO NOT PROVIDE RENEWABLE ENERGY!!! Developers claim they provide clean renewable energy, but this is far from the truth. Not one coal or gas plant the world over has been decommissioned because of IWTs...and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is their raison d’etre. To quote an expert: “Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don’t go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal-or gas-fired generators (called “cycling”). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don’t, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase.” This is happening worldwide. In Colorado and Texas – Ireland and Denmark - CO2 and power plant pollution have increased since they installed wind farms:
IWT’s are a gift to the coal and gas industries. In fact, you cannot be against fracking and for wind energy because methane is the cogeneration fuel of choice. More wind turbines will require a lot more methane production. Here’s a great articles on how inefficient they are at providing power:
The wind industry is built on crony capitalism, it is the only way it can exist. Taxpayer money builds them and power companies are mandated to buy wind generated power at several times the rate of conventionally produced power. There is no true benefit, except to wind power companies, politicians and lobbyists

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About the bloggers
Tim WheelerTim Wheeler reports on the environment and Chesapeake Bay. A native of West Virginia, he has focused mainly on Maryland's environment since moving here in 1983. Along the way, he's crewed aboard a skipjack in the bay, canoed under city streets up the Jones Fall from the Inner Harbor, and gone deep underground in a western Maryland coal mine. He loves seafood, rambles in the country and good stories. He hopes to share some here.

Contributor Christy Zuccarini has been blogging about the local DIY craft scene for a year for She brings her pespective on all things handmade to B'More Green, where she will highlight projects you can do yourself as well as crafters who are integrating sustainable methods and materials.

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