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Transmission Line Campaign—A High Priority for the Sierra Club
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by Alana Wase | 2009

Transmission lines are not the sexy attention-grabbers like global warming, renewable energy, or energy efficiency. Nonetheless, the issue of transmission lines—to build or not to build—is at the forefront of Maryland environmental issues these days

Transmission lines are not the sexy attention-grabbers like global warming, renewable energy, or energy efficiency. Nonetheless, the issue of transmission lines—to build or not to build—is at the forefront of Maryland environmental issues these days.

My education about transmission lines began about five months ago thanks to a day-long workshop organized by the Sierra Club’s legal department.  More than 50 citizens from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania attended. I was shocked to realize how something as banal as transmission-line construction could be at the crux of global warming.

Currently, there are two proposals for transmission lines through Maryland: the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) (see page 4) and the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) (see page 3). The bad news is that the points of origin for these lines are two of the largest coal-fired power plants in the nation.  Unfortunately, that is just the beginning of the negative repercussions these transmission lines would create.  As we all know, increased coal-fired power means increased global warming.  Increased coal-fired power leads to increased demand for mountaintop removal.  Increased coal-fired power in Maryland outcompetes and takes away incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy development.  You guessed it, all terrible.

The answer is certainly not for us to go without electricity but, rather, to take a comprehensive look at the bigger issue, which is the need to use electricity that pollutes less.  Let’s look for a comprehensive solution like ratcheting up energy efficiency or developing new renewable electricity sources like offshore wind.  Given that the transmission lines would not carry power until 2014, we have time to look at the whole system and get it right, rather than rushing into a “solution” that would provide more energy in the short term but would exacerbate our long-term problem of a rapidly warming planet. 

The Sierra Club is working to make this a priority campaign and to fight against these two transmission lines.  The national Sierra Club has filed to intervene with the Public Service Commission case on one of the transmission lines. The Maryland Chapter is working on a broad campaign to educate the public on this issue and motivate people to put pressure on the Maryland Public Service Commission, which will ultimately make the decision on whether or not to build the lines.

This issue is of grave importance, and we believe it is quite winnable, but we need your help!  Here are the top three things that you can do to help us win on this campaign:

 

Volunteer: Do you have a few hours you could give to this campaign a week?  To be successful in influencing the Maryland Public Service Commission,  we need people to help spread the word: table, hit the streets, collect signatures and write letters to the editor. To get involved email: Alana.wase@mdsierra.org

 

Donate: We estimate that the cost of this campaign to the Maryland Chapter will be just over $10,000.  Please write a check; every bit helps.  This campaign is tax-deductible, a bonus!  Please make your check payable to the Sierra Club Foundation and note in the memo line “MD transmission campaign.”

 

Write a letter: After reading up on this topic in this issue of the Chesapeake, write a letter to Douglas Nazarian, Chairman, Maryland Public Service Commission, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21201.  Be sure to reference the following case numbers:

uuuuFor the MAPP transmission line, reference #9179; and

uuuuFor the PATH transmission line, reference #9198.

This issue of the Chesapeake strives to educate the reader on different aspects of the transmission line issue. We have articles on the history of the issue (page 5); the effect building these lines will have on the development of off- shore wind capability (page 6); and the environmental problems with the lines themselves (MAPP page 4 and PATH page 3). While complicated, it is far too important an issue to ignore.

Ultimately, we have a choice: continue with business as usual or step up to the challenge.  So please, read on and step up!   n

> 2009 Table of Contents

   
   

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