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2011 Chesapeake Summer/Autumn

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Moving Maryland Beyond Coal

by Alana Wase
By Alana Wase—Pollution from coal-fired power plants contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States and adds nearly $62 billion per year to health-care costs. But the dangers of coal-fired power plants don’t end there: They are the single largest contributor to global warming, responsible for 39 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA Cracks Down on Coal

by Janice Meier
—Sierra Club’s campaign to support the “air toxics” rule to limit air toxins like mercury under the Clean Air Act (CAA) is buzzing. Our support of the rule’s hearings last month with testimony and “baby stroller parades” gave needed visibility to the effects of mercury and other air toxins on human health. But this rule is actually a follow-on that reinforces several other recent EPA rules to reduce the impact of coal-fired electric generation on our air and water.

Ron Henry’s Letter from the Chair

by Ron Henry
Hello All,
The word “summer” never loses its magic, conjuring up images of retreating to the mountains in Western Maryland, paddling our many creeks and rivers, or lazing on our beaches by the ocean or the Bay. But summer is also the season of record heat, air-quality alerts, and peak demand for electricity. In this issue of Chesapeake, we’re going to try to help you enjoy that summer magic with outings and events that will take you deep into the woods, high in the mountains, or out on—or into—the water. But we’re also going to try to engage you in helping to tame some of summer’s ills.

Seeking Candidates for Chapter Excom

Each year, the Maryland Chapter holds elections for “at large” delegates to the chapter executive committee. This winter, the members of the chapter will elect three people to serve two-year terms. The chapter’s nominating committee invites all interested members of the Maryland Chapter to enter the race for these positions. We are looking for at least six people who can bring management skills, a firm commitment to protecting the environment, and a willingness to invest their time and energy for the next two years to help manage the chapter.

Some Success—and Many Disappointments—from the 2011 Maryland General Assembly Session

by David O'Leary and Alana Wase
At the start the outlook for the 2011 Maryland General Assembly session was good. Maryland had re-elected Governor Martin O’Malley, and the make-up of the state Senate changed such that we anticipated progress on environmental issues. The governor accepted one of the environmental community priorities as his own, and announced plans to introduce a bill to drive the construction of an offshore wind farm near Ocean City. Led by a new legislative committee chair, Chris Bryan and joined by new committee members, Sierra Club activists worked closely with other environmental, community, and labor organizations and with state government agencies on offshore wind and on our other priorities. (Meet Chris and the legislative committee in Marta Vogel’s wonderful profile on page 15.) By the end of the session in mid-April, however, disappointment and frustration were strong for the environmental community, especially those in the Sierra Club who spent significant time and energy on environmental, public health, and good government initiatives.

Why the Crusade on Coal?

Coal-fired power plants generate roughly half of the nation’s electricity. Burning coal produces smog, soot, mercury and other toxic air pollutants, and greenhouse gases. This pollution harms public health, contaminates our waters and soils, and destroys forests and crops.

Out with the Old

by Laura Buzek
Out with the Old
By Laura Buzek—The Maryland Sierra Club’s Moving Maryland Beyond Coal (MMBC) campaign is aiming to get several coal-fired power plants in the state phased out. We are targeting three plants in particular, because of their age, the high amount of pollution they release, the small amount of energy they produce, and their not having “scrubbers.”

How Many Years Can a Mountain Exist Before it is Washed to Sea?

by D. Tewell
By D. Tewell—Coal’s dirty life begins with mining. Well before long trains of coal cars chug their way to power-generation stations, the coal they’re hauling has already begun to make its mark as the nation’s number one polluter.

How Are We Going to Keep the Lights On?

by Amanda Ruthven
By Amanda Ruthven—In considering the closure of the R. Paul Smith, C. P. Crane, and Herbert A Wagner coal plants in Maryland, it is important to understand how these coal plants currently figure in Maryland’s energy portfolio and viable alternatives to these sources.

Maryland Chapter Gets an Energy Upgrade

by Richard Reis
By Richard Reis, PE—The Maryland Sierra Club reduced its energy footprint by upgrading its office’s 12 light fixtures, using vacancy-sensing switches, and replacing the window blinds to moderate daylight. In the past, the fixtures used four 40-watt, T-12 lamps. By rebuilding each fixture to hold fewer but more efficient lamps, by cleaning the lenses, and by installing new reflectors behind the lamps, the Maryland Sierra Club chapter office has more light and more reliable fixtures while lowering energy use.

The Billionaire Brothers Who Make Us Sick

by Michael Brune
By Michael Brune—When two billionaire brothers hold private, closed-door meetings of elite and powerful donors and supporters of the oil industry, you can bet that the agenda at Charles and David Koch’s cozy confabs will include doing everything possible to ensure that nothing gets done that might result in clean energy, green jobs, or a healthy environment.

Beyond Coal: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

“Clean tech is where [information technology] was 30 years ago and biotech was 20 years ago; we’re way early in the innovation cycle,” according to David Prend, managing partner of RockPort Capital and director of the National Venture Capital Association.

In King Coal’s Kingdom, Truth Is Stranger than Satire

by Carl Pope
By Carl Pope—Back in December 2008, the coal industry looked to be the victim of a vicious satire. An online campaign purporting to be from an organization called the American Coalition for Clean Coal posted a series of cartoons of lumps of coal dressed in Christmas garb and singing absurd lyrics to Christmas carols. For example, to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman,” we heard that “When they looked for pollution there was almost none to see” and that “Frosty the Coalman” is “affordable and adorable.” Like most spoofs, the campaign vanished like a snowman melting in Dubai when folks like MSNBC journalist Rachel Maddow mercilessly tweaked it.

Wiser About Our Waters

To clean up the Chesapeake Bay requires turning a tide that is permanently scouring our landscape.
The Bay watershed loses to development 100 acres of forest, the best land-use for protecting water quality, every day.
The rate at which urbanization converts land to surfaces impervious to rainwater, the worst land-use for water quality, exceeds the rate of population growth by a factor of five.

Rookie Legislative Team Attracts Top Tier Talent

by Marta Vogel
By Marta Vogel—At the Patuxent River Appreciation Days (PRAD) in October, 2010, Chris Bryan was looking for something to sink his environmental teeth into. Not that he didn’t have enough to keep himself busy, working full time for the feds, a wife and a four year-old daughter, and having just completed a master of arts in great books at St. John’s College. But having aced effective time management in the Navy, he was ripe for a leadership position when he passed the Sierra Club table at the festival on Columbus Day. He picked up a copy of Chesapeake, talked to John and Meredith Sweet and jumped straight into the legislative waters as chair of the committee.

Group News Roundup

by Mary C. Corddry
Edited by Mary C. Corddry—Following is a roundup of what’s happening with the nine Sierra Club groups in Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Catoctin, Eastern Shore, Greater Baltimore, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and Western Maryland. If you have information to contribute to future “Roundups” for the Chesapeake newsletter, please contact Mary Corddry at or at 410-239-4590.

Get Outdoors

Sierra Club outings are open to everyone, members and non-members alike. Each outing is intended to be a wholesome, safe, and enjoyable experience in the outdoors.

Outings Leaders! List Your Outings Online

The national Sierra Club is in the process of testing a new online activity publishing system. This system will permit outings leaders to enter their planned outings directly into a website database which will then be available on the club website.

Auction Items Needed

Jamboree attendees always look forward to the silent and live auction. The silent auction features donated items, new or lightly used, especially things that would be of interest to outdoorsy folks, like Sierra Club books, outdoor sports equipment, household items, etc.

Top Five Reasons to Attend the Jamboree

1. Have fun! There’s something for everyone at the Jamboree. Come out with your family, friends, or on your own and meet new friends.


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