Archive for the ‘The Green Movement’ Category

Hope Still Alive for O’Malley’s Offshore Wind Legislation

Friday, March 25th, 2011

ANNAPOLIS — Despite concerns that momentum behind the governor’s offshore wind energy bill is fading, Delegate Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, said Friday that the bill has more than a fighting chance to pass this session.

The governor’s signature energy initiative has faced opposition from legislators concerned about the project’s costs to the state and consumers.

Davis, who is continuing to have meetings with Gov. Martin O’Malley and his staff, said he plans to turn the full attention of the House Economic Matters Committee to the bill next week. Davis chairs the committee.

That leaves less than two weeks before the end of the legislative session to get the bill out of committees and passed in the House and Senate.

The bill would contractually obligate utility companies to purchase some energy from offshore wind production companies for 25 years, once the wind turbines have been built. The turbines would be located about 12 miles offshore of Ocean City.

O’Malley announced Wednesday that he was introducing amendments to the bill that would cap rate increases at $2 per month, which Davis said could help get the bill out of committee.

“Any cap helps,” Davis said. “What folks want is a certain amount of cost certainty. That can’t do anything but help so that was certainly a good move on the governor’s part.”

Some of the bill’s opponents believe it is too cumbersome to pass this session, with some Senate Finance Committee members saying it should be recommended for a study over the summer.

Steelworkers unions and environmentalists are united in seeing the bill pass in the hopes that building the turbines would bring jobs to Maryland and help the state reach a goal of generating 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2022.

– By Capital News Service’s Kerry Davis.

Cardin Proposes Elimination of Blenders’ Ethanol Tax Credit

Friday, March 11th, 2011
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., introduced legislation to repeal the  Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which gives companies 45 cents on every gallon of ethanol they blend with gasoline.

“There is no real justification for the subsidy for the blend on ethanol,” Cardin said. The subsidy does not help corn growers, but rather contributes to the profits of oil companies, he said.

Should the bill become law, the short-term impact on corn growers would be relatively small, said John Urbanchuk, technical director at Cardno ENTRIX, an environmental and natural resources consulting firm. But the long-term effect on ethanol demand could be substantial, he said.

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, comes on the heels of a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last week saying the VEETC subsidy cost $5.4 billion in 2010. The report indicated the measure could cost $6.75 billion in forgone revenue in 2015.

“We’re looking for ways to save money,” Cardin said. “I think this is way you can save several billion dollars to help balance the budget.”

A demand for ethanol would remain without the VEETC because of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires minimum volumes of biofuels like ethanol in transportation fuels, according to the GAO report.

“Importantly, the fuel standard is now at a level high enough to ensure that a market for domestic ethanol production exists in the absence of the ethanol tax credit and may soon itself be at a level beyond what can be consumed by the nation’s existing vehicle infrastructure,” the report stated.

Growth Energy, an organization advocating for ethanol production and use, issued a statement condemning the bill.

“The ethanol industry is fully prepared to reform and reduce the cost of current tax programs,” said CEO Tom Buisin in a statement released Thursday. “I would suggest Sens. Coburn and Cardin introduce legislation requiring the oil industry to do the same. ”

Urbanchuk said a repeal of the tax credit could create another unintended consequence: an increase in the already-growing investment in foreign ethanol production.

“We’ll end up, instead of being a net exporter, perhaps being a net importer of ethanol again,” he said.

Cardin acknowledged opposition but remained confident in his objectives for the legislation.

“There could be some regional controversy because people identify it with corn, but I really think when people look at it they’ll see that this is not really an issue about the corn industry,” Cardin said. “It’s really an issue about removing a subsidy that’s no longer needed.”

– By Capital News Service’s Laura E. Lee

Honest Tea’s CEO Says Things Go Better with Coke

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman addresses the sustainable business conference on Wednesday about Coca-Cola's purchase of his company. Capital News Service photo by Steve Kilar

Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman addresses the sustainable business conference on Wednesday about Coca-Cola's purchase of his company. Capital News Service photo by Steve Kilar

Coca-Cola’s acquisition of Bethesda-based beverage producer Honest Tea continues to move forward, said Seth Goldman, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Goldman was the keynote speaker Wednesday at a Washington forum on sustainable business practices.

The Atlanta-based beverage giant purchased a minority share of Honest Tea in 2008. Since then, Honest Tea’s distribution has expanded five-fold — from 15,000  to 75,000 sales outlets — and sales have tripled, Goldman said.

Honest Tea shareholders were formally notified Tuesday of Coca-Cola’s plan to purchase the company’s remaining shares. The company will remain headquartered in Bethesda, Goldman said in a blog post.

Goldman is optimistic about the acquisition — under which he will maintain an ownership stake — and hopes consumers will see the potential “green” advantages of wider distribution of Honest Tea’s organic products.

“It’s easy to fall into the ‘big is bad, small is good’ trap,” Goldman said. But in addition to moving Honest Tea into a larger distribution network — helping fulfill the company’s goal “to make organics democratized” — Coca-Cola also offers resources that can further sustainable business practices.

For instance, Goldman said, Coca-Cola is developing more eco-friendly bottles made from molasses, and its bottling plants waste less water than Honest Tea’s other bottling facilities.

“Coke’s (bottling) strategies are more advanced than ours,” Goldman said.

Honest Tea, which also produces juices, is planning to expand beyond beverages and expects to launch a new fruit drink in about two months, Goldman said. “There’s a lot more on the way.”

– By Capital News Service’s Steve Kilar

Groups Support Offshore Wind Effort Along the Atlantic Coast

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

CHEVERLY — A report released by the National Wildlife Federation Wednesday found that the Atlantic coast could produce enough wind energy to power about 1.5 million homes annually — equivalent to about five coal burning power plants.

The findings were released a week after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a “Smart from the Start” initiative designed to speed up permitting of wind energy projects along the Atlantic coast.

Offshore wind projects could generate $200 billion to revive economies and create more than 43,000 permanent jobs, the report said.

In Maryland alone, offshore wind could offset more than half of the state’s electricity needs.

Offshore wind projects are supported by 35 environmental and labor groups on the Atlantic coast, including Environment Maryland and the United Steelworkers, who were present at the report’s release at the site of a wind turbine under construction in Cheverly.

The 70-foot turbine in Cheverly will generate enough electricity to offset half of the Public Works Department’s power usage.

The turbine is the first wind tower in Prince George’s County and will be running within a week if weather permits, said Cheverly Mayor Michael Callahan.

By Capital News Service’s Nicole Dao

Green Roofs: Your Thoughts?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Green roofs are growing all across the country, a recent study confirms.

Do you have a green roof? Do any of your neighbors, friends, colleagues or local businesses?

How well is it working?

And what do you think about having plants growing on your roof?

–from Maryland Newsline’s Lindsay Gsell