More than 60 people (and one adorable dog) attended a lively rally last Wednesday outside the State House in Annapolis, Maryland. The mood was festive and ripe with anticipation, as attendees held signs, listened to several speakers, and spoke to the press. Oceana handed out dozens of lawn turbines and one attendee was spotted wearing a home-made, 5-foot tall windmill on his head! It certainly made a powerful visual statement.
The event was organized by the Marylanders for Offshore Wind Power Coalition, of which Oceana is a member, and was held just prior to a hearing in the state’s Senate Finance Committee on the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013. As we posted recently, the bill would jumpstart the offshore wind industry and create hundreds of jobs in Maryland. These are great steps toward a clean energy future!
The Coalition is made up of Maryland environmental, faith, business, and other community groups working together to secure offshore wind energy off of Maryland’s coast. The Sierra Club, the NAACP, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Interfaith Power and Light, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, and University of Maryland students spoke at the event.
The speakers from this diverse coalition outlinedwhy clean energy needs to be a top priority: fossil fuels are harmful for our planet, our health, and our economy. The faster we rid ourselves of dirty energy, the faster we can begin to halt the devastating and irreversible effects of climate change.
After the rally, many people from the rally shuffled into the Senate building to attend a hearing on the bill. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley spoke to the room in support of the bill. Governor O’Malley is a longtime champion of offshore wind and optimistic that the bill will pass in the next several weeks. Judging from the overwhelming amount of support at the rally and the recent poll stating that 77% of Maryland residents support offshore wind, the governor appears to have the strength of public opinion on his side.
Maryland could become an influential leader in the renewable energy industry and drastically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels by adding offshore wind to its energy mix. Thanks to a lot of hard work by Marylanders and the powerful organizing done by the Coalition and allies like Oceana, we are close to making offshore wind on the East Coast a reality.
The message from the rally could not be clearer: Maryland residents are demanding a smart, sustainable future for their energy needs. Stay tuned and stay involved as this exciting story unfolds!