, Loyola College (MD), Towson, MD
This is a follow-up to Emily Saari's blog post "MSCC - We Create Realty!"
At Power Shift 2011, Maryland students rebuilt the MSCC (Maryland Student Climate Coalition) to keep the spirit of Power Shift alive in Maryland. At our first in-person planning meeting in late June, I asked the meeting's participants this important question: "Why do we need a Maryland Power Shift?" Knowing that the battle against dirty energy cannot be fought alone, I shared them my post-Power Shift story:
On May 5th, I attended a Loyola University alumni networking event in downtown Baltimore, at which Ken DeFontes, CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) and a Loyola MBA alumnus with 30-40 years' of business experience spoke. BG&E is a distributor of energy to the general public and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Energy, which recently merged with Exelon Energy. BG&E's best work is by far in the area of energy efficiency with its Smart Meters. Constellation and Exelon are the owners of the energy generation assets. Constellation does have a few solar and wind projects, some completed and others in the works. But, it still generates most of its energy from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power. DeFontes is a member of the American Gas Association, so I asked him a question about fracking for natural gas, telling him about the extensive contamination of people's water supply that has occurred in Pennsylvania because of it. He immediately said, "as long as the well is sealed, there shouldn't be any problems. He described that if the waterbed is 200 feet down and the natural gas is trapped in the rocks 9,000 feet down, there shouldn't be any contamination as long as its sealed through the aquifer. Out of all the questions he faced, mine was by far the toughest. Very troubling. Power Shift keynote speaker and former Vice-President Al Gore once said, "There are some things about our world that you know, that older people don't know." DeFontes' speech perfectly exemplifies Gore's quote.
I did not have time to ask him any other questions, but had some prepared on mountaintop removal, regulation of coal ash wastes, and the dangers of nuclear energy. I have researched the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's website and have discovered some of its very disturbing postions on energy and environmental bills. BG&E undoubtedly has some influence on the Maryland Chamber. It seems that the Maryland Chamber is similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, even though it is listed on 350.org's "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak for Me" campaign. The Maryland Chamber's CEO, Katherine Snyder, says the budget decisions and political positions of the Maryland and U.S. Chambers are separate. But, the Maryland Chamber has voiced strong opposition to SB861/HB1054, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act. It supports natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale and opposes Governor Martin O'Malley's efforts to put it on for environmental safety studies. The most noticeably disturbing position it has taken on a bill is its opposition to SB637/HB759, Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland - Toxic Chemical Identification and Reduction act. That alone suggests a "profit first, people second" mentality.
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