If measured by the turnout at the rally at the Annapolis state house yesterday, of all the issues confronting the Maryland General Assembly as it reconvenes this week, offshore wind power enjoys the most energetic public support.
Maintaining the grassroots momentum from a statewide series of packed "Wind Works" town hall forums, over 100 citizen clean energy advocates from across Maryland descended on Lawyers' Mall on Wednesday morning to greet returning state lawmakers with an unequivocal message: "Get it done in 2012! Wind works for Marylanders' health, jobs, climate and energy costs!"
Decked out in blue campaign T-shirts, wind advocates were the most visible activist presence on the opening morning of the 2012 legislative session. The impressive show of support for a cold weekday morning jibed with recent statewide poll results which showed that nearly two-thirds of Marylanders support developing the state's robust offshore wind energy resources, even if it means a small initial bump in energy costs.
Speaking to the rally crowd, state Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola scoffed at charges from critics that Marylanders can't afford to invest in offshore wind: "The price of coal goes up; the price of gas goes up. Does the price of wind ever go up?"
The crowd responded with a resounding, "No!"
"That's right," Garagiola continued, "It doesn't go up. This is going to save ratepayers money."
Other speakers included the state House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, climate justice and health advocate Vernice Miller Travis, Chesapeake Climate Action Network Director Mike Tidwell, MD Delegate Tom Hucker, business innovator Joe Gaskins, Johns Hopkins student Tippy Patrinos and state Senator Paul Pinsky.
After the rally, the sea of blue shirts shifted from the mall to the inside of the state house and the legislative office buildings where activists took the wind works message to legislators and other dignitaries.
On his way to address the opening session, Governor Martin O'Malley stopped to greet wind activists distributing fliers on the mall, and reiterated his support for passing the bill through the Assembly this year. The Governor's new offshore-wind energy bill is expected to drop in the next few weeks along with the rest of his ambitious legislative package. With other big ticket issues like same-sex marriage, a proposed sales or gas tax increase on the agenda, clean energy advocates certainly have their work cut out for them in keeping wind at the top of the priority list. But if advocates keep bringing the same grassroots energy they brought to Annapolis on Wednesday, that shouldn't be a problem.
Learn more about the "Wind Works for Maryland" campaign and get involved at www.marylandoffshorewind.org.
Crossposted from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network blog.
Photo Credit: Abhik Saha
Follow Keith Harrington on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kharring