Monday, October 05, 2009

Energy and the Environment in Maryland and Delaware

I'm back from my two day mini lecture tour through Maryland and Delaware. On Saturday afternoon, I gave a talk on the economics of renewable energy with Scott Donnelly from the Eastern Shore Sierra Club at the Maryland Sierra Club's jamboree. It may seem strange that any outdoor types would want to spend any part of a Saturday afternoon indoors going through a PowerPoint presentation, but our talk drew an attentive and engaged audience, which included Allison Chin, the Sierra Club's national president (shown here with Scott and me).
Scott is among the local Sierra Club members who are quickly getting themselves up to speed on the economic, environmental and regulatory issues involved in bringing offshore wind power to Maryland. We shared our pride in being members of the organization founded by John Muir, whose vision led to the creation of the first national parks.
Sunday was Coast Day in Lewes, where I got an update on Bluewater Wind's efforts to line up more customers for the Delaware wind power project and learned that I live 142 feet above sea level, thanks to Google Earth and DNREC's coastal programs office.
That night, I led a town hall discussion at the monthly gathering of Dining with Progressives on the topic of energy economics. I had just started to describe Senate Bill 106, which created energy efficiency resource standards for Delaware, when someone asked, Isn't that (DNREC secretary) Collin O'Mara outside? Sure enough it was, and I stepped out to ask if he would take few moments to say hello to the group. Collin graciously added to an already long day by talking with the group about energy policy and environmental regulation before rejoining his wife and friends.
The key message of my weekend talks was that opponents of progress (whether wind power or climate change) will exaggerate the costs and dismiss the benefits. We saw it in the fight to bring wind power to Delaware, and we're seeing it again in the national debate on climate change.

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