Odd and ends number 45

Thanks to Dan Bongino, who I spoke to the other night at our Lincoln Day Dinner. As he reminded me, I am now on number 45 in this occasional series of short items I grace with a paragraph or three.

So how about I start with an item involving him?

You probably don’t know the name Mia Love, but perhaps you should. The Utah Congressional candidate endorsed Dan with this statement:

“I first learned about Dan when he was being covered for a segment on Fox News.  I was amazed by his story and the passion he has for the state of Maryland,” said Mia Love.  “If we are going to change the way Washington operates, we need to start by electing folks like Dan Bongino.”

So I’m sure you’re thinking, well, that’s nice. But take a look at her website and read this piece of her life she shares therein:

On the day of Mia’s college orientation, her father said something to her that would become the ethos for her life:

“Mia, your mother and I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.”

Consider that she’s born of Haitian parents and is a minority conservative Republican with a sound track record in her home state, and the strategy of this endorsement makes much more sense.

But there’s other endorsement news out there as well. This particular one shakes up the Sixth District race a bit, as former Senatorial hopeful Jim Rutledge eschewed endorsing one of the better-known candidates in the race and instead backs the underdog Robert Coblentz, calling him “a concrete conservative who understands the core principles and values that make America great.”

Perhaps that’s not a complete surprise, though, as Coblentz was the coordinator of Jim’s campaign in Washington County in 2010. Still, it gives him a little bit of gravitas in his uphill battle against more well-known candidates, and politicians have to start somewhere.

Returning to the Senate race, candidate Rich Douglas has been scoring media points with a couple appearances over in western Maryland. He called out Ben Cardin for not taking a stance on the gas tax during Alex Mooney’s WFMD-AM radio show Sunday evening, saying “I haven’t heard a peep from Ben Cardin (on the gas tax). There’s one simple way he can make his position known – go to a microphone and say what it is.” It also gave Mooney a free shot at Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola, who’s changed his stance on the issue since he decided to run for Congress in the Sixth District. “These politicians all look out for each other,” added Douglas.

Rich was also featured in a Cumberland Times-News story by Matthew Bieniek on Friday where he echoed some of his job creation arguments presented Saturday at our Lincoln Day Dinner:

Job growth is Douglas’ priority and he doesn’t think the current administration in Washington, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, are doing enough to bring new jobs to Maryland and the nation.

“The unfavorable business climate is a major factor. … Congress has a duty to remove obstacles to success,” Douglas said. A senator should be out there promoting Maryland as a business destination, he said.

A strategic, comprehensive vision for the nation’s economic future is needed, he said. The current “salami slice approach” isn’t working, Douglas said.

Obviously Douglas is covering the state quite well, and the strategy of using local media may pay off come April.

Nine of the Senate hopefuls are slated to be back in this end of the state for a candidate forum this Friday evening, moderated by former State Senate hopeful Michael James. It will be held in the Assateague Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center at 6:30 p.m. and seating is limited. For more information call Joan Gentile (443) 465-2400 or e-mail to joanierags (at) verizon.net.

With the Maryland General Assembly session continuing to chug along, I have a lot of state-related stuff to get to.

Senator E.J. Pipkin sent along a laundry list of objections to SB237, which is the governor’s latest bid to jump-start the offshore wind industry.  Before I get to his list, it’s worth pointing out that none of the co-sponsors of the bill (or its cross-filed House counterpart) come from the Eastern Shore.

But Pipkin notes:

Governor O’Malley paints wonderful pictures about a Maryland Offshore Wind Farm and the jobs it will create and the economy it will enrich.  However, he never tells you about what has happened with offshore wind in NEW JERSEY, MASSACHUSETTS, VIRGINIA AND DELAWARE.   He never discusses that the cost of wind is nearly double that of today’s electric rates.  And he never talks about the impossibility of offshore wind without federal loan guarantees and tax credits.

In New Jersey’s case, a study found that, “if approved and developed, (offshore wind) could lead to a loss of nearly 30,000 jobs and a loss of $1 billion in negative net economic impacts to the New Jersey economy.” Delaware and Virginia can’t find takers for their offshore wind schemes due to high costs per kilowatt-hour and a lack of guaranteed federal loans and tax credits (read: subsidies) and Cape Wind Associates of Massachusetts has only sold half its output because costs are too high.

In short, offshore wind is a terrible idea, particularly when we have better, cheaper, and more reliable alternatives available.

On a similar Radical Green note, I wrote awhile back about the prospect of a bag tax. Well, they are at it again, wishing to slap a nickel per bag fee on your grocery bill. One bag manufacturer is naturally up in arms too, but while they support an alternative measure I say just leave well enough alone and bag the whole thing. If I happen to think about it, I’ll take a batch of bags to the recycling bin stores already have but I’ve also found the grocery bags work fine as garbage bags in some of my low-usage garbage cans (like in our bedroom or office.) So why muck up the law books and encourage the state to take yet another fee?

I also wanted to make sure I got in another reminder about the upcoming Wicomico County elected school board hearing on Thursday, March 15 at 1 p.m. As one County Council member noted, “last year (the) NAACP had persons present for the hearing, I expect they will have again.” I say make them the minority they are, especially in that hearing room.

On the tax front, the two BRFA (Budget Reconciliation and Financing) bills are being heard Wednesday and Thursday this week. SB152 has tax deduction reductions for working Marylanders, increases in fees for various records, the shift of teachers’ pensions to counties, and the dreaded “app tax” included as parts of this bill. SB249 is also being heard, which makes the “millionaire’s tax” permanent.

If that’s not bad enough, SB523 increases taxes on (almost) EVERYONE. (If you make less than $3,000 in Maryland taxable income you’re spared. Woohoo.)

So let me end with some good news for a change, before I get into my new websites.

While the Good Beer Festival is a close second, I would say my favorite local festival is Pork in the Park. Recently they received some national attention:

The Pork in the Park BBQ Festival, sponsored by Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism, has been selected by Smithfield Foods to host the Smithfield Rib Shootout. To launch their new barbeque competition, Smithfield approached the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) and requested the top festivals in their major markets. Pork in the Park was amongst the top three in the nation and the only festival in the state of Maryland selected for this opportunity.

Pork in the Park will be the first barbeque festival to hold this new event. Hosting the Smithfield Rib Shootout will put Pork in the Park in the national spotlight, providing the festival with over 50 million traditional and social media impressions through local and national public relations efforts revolving around the event. Pork in the Park will also receive additional exposure on the barbeque circuit as KCBS competitors across the country will be notified of the event. In addition, Smithfield will provide additional prize money for the Grand Champion, Reserve Grand Champion and third place category winners at Pork in the Park.

It’s simply amazing that our little city hosts the SECOND LARGEST barbeque festival in the country, and it’s not all that expensive to go and enjoy an afternoon there. I’m excited to see what this will do for the event.

New links for you to check out: the “information pollination” of Dr. Melissa Clouthier under my “News and Commentary” section, “A Citizen’s View” from American Thinker contributor Scott Strzelczyk under Maryland sites, and the revamped Maryland Business for Responsive Government website within my Political Links – My Side subheading.

I think that’s plenty of odds and ends for now, don’t you?

Update: Late addition, since I didn’t want to wait until next time: Robert Stacy McCain is trying for echoes of both my Weekend of Local Rock and Friday Night Video series. But he does it from Hell.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

3 thoughts on “Odd and ends number 45”

  1. I can understand the concerns about cost around the offshore wind issue. Cost to ratepayers is an important factor that deserves close attention, and ratepayers themselves deserve protections from high energy costs.

    However, while it may be somewhat easy to dismiss a viable resource like offshore wind, buying into the oppositions view, or pointing to studies and articles that trash the idea, a more extensive and personal study of the issue and gathering the facts to make an informed decision (while more time consuming) is quite an admirable approach. In today’s 24 hour news cycle that competes for our attention and often tailors their reporting to the ideologies and views of the audience they want to tune in, it is my belief that we too frequently count on others to tell us how to think, what to do, and where to stand on an issue, rather than looking at the facts objectively, doing our own research and then deciding for ourselves.

    With regards to the New Jersey study referenced in your post, how absurd is it to believe that a six-turbine, pilot offshore wind project could cost nearly 30,000 jobs and cause NJ to lose nearly $1 billion in economic activity? Due to the price volatility of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas..) used to generate most of the electricity powering our homes, electricity prices go up and down quite frequently, but you don’t see businesses firing and hiring in sync with the price spikes and pits. The truth is, a closer look at this study will reveal a number of very basic mistakes.

    A similar study on New Jersey’s offshore wind program conducted by the conservative think-tank Beacon Hill Institute, has been thoroughly debunked as well. It is important to note, funding for this study and many other studies attacking wind energy were funded by the coal, oil & gas industries.

    We could probably debate for hours on all this, getting into the details about the merits and problems with this study and that study, but at the end of the day, under the Governor’s legislation, if the independent consultant analyzing proposed projects studies a proposal and its analysis finds that the project will have the effect of killing 30,000 MD jobs and a loss of nearly $1 billion to Maryland, the Maryland Public Service Commission is obligated, by law, to reject the proposal. A proposal can only have a chance at being approved if it meets a number of strict requirements that provide ratepayer protections and ensure a positive net benefit to the State.

    On the Massachusetts Cape Wind project, it was only a week ago that utility NStar bought into cape wind — agreeing to buy over a quarter of the wind farms output.

    In Virginia, major utility Dominion recently announced plans to develop a large wind farm off the coast of Virginia.

    Indeed, the lack of support from a Federal tax credit and loan guarantee program is a real issue that threatens to stifle growth in the industry. For example, the lack of a tax credit and loan guarantee program caused NRG to put their Delaware Bluewater Wind project on hold and back out of their Power Purchase Agreement. This is because when the PPA was created, the support from a tax credit and loan guarantee program was factored into the delivered price of offshore wind that was fixed by-contract. The sudden absence of Federal support made it impossible to deliver offshore wind at that price.

    In Maryland, the Governor’s new legislation has stronger provisions to protect consumers and promote in-state jobs. If a qualified offshore wind project is approved, Maryland ratepayers would not be charged a dime until at least 2017 when the turbines start generating power. Before any wind farm has even a chance of being operational in 2017, they must go through a long and transparent process with opportunities for public input and comment. They must submit an extensive bid that will be reviewed by an independent consultant hired by the Maryland Public Service Commission, before the PSC can approve and deny a project. The legislation is clear in that the PSC can only approve projects that demonstrate a positive net benefit to Maryland among other requirements. If it cannot demonstrate a positive net benefit, the proposal is immediately off the table and will not be approved.
    Additionally if a project is projected to cost the average ratepayer more than $2/month, it is off the table and cannot be approved.
    In their bids, wind developers will likely have to assume the absence of Federal support and therefor wont factor it into the delivered price of offshore wind. In their bid, if a developer cannot show that it will deliver offshore wind in absence of federal support at a price that will add $2 or less to the avg. MD ratepayers bill, their bid is immediately off the table and cannot be approved.

    This legislation does not guarantee that a wind farm will get built. Rather, it simply establishes a long process in which the public and regulators will be given the opportunity to study these proposals in great detail and learn the facts.

    In a way, it comes down to fairness. Equal opportunity is one of the key factors that makes the U.S. a great nation is; a principle that this country was founded under. Fairness means that every American has the chance to succeed even if the ultimate outcome may vary. The Governor’s legislation will give wind developers an opportunity, not a guaranteed outcome. The desired outcome is not anything new to the energy sector.

    During their infancy, the fossil fuel industries enjoyed subsidies and other forms of support so they could develop, improve technologies, and lower costs so they could become competitive. To this day, these industries still sit on their thrones enjoying subsidies and breaks. With the cost of fossil fuels fluctuating, an all above approach to energy that includes smart investments in renewable energy that guarantees long-term price stability will provide a hedge to protect ratepayers from the volatility of fossil fuel prices.

  2. You make some compelling points, but here is the problem I have with the Governor’s approach.

    Several years back, the state of Maryland mandated that utilities create a percentage of their output from so-called “renewable” sources, or pay a fee. It seems to me that if offshore wind is such a great idea (after all, the fuel is supposedly “free”) someone would have done it already. So why haven’t they? After all, we can drill for oil in the same place than these turbines would be because they’re going to use federal waters earmarked originally for oil exploration as I recall.

    Understandably, one can argue that fossil fuels have subsidies, but the question is how much of an effect do the subsidies have on the price when compared to the subsidies required for offshore wind. After all, no one has composed a law that utilities have to create x percentage of their power from coal, natural gas, nuclear, etc. I don’t have an answer to that subsidy question.

    Obviously if it can be proven that utilities can harness offshore wind and do so efficiently then it will be done. From most accounts, they cannot. And with the sinking price of natural gas we may not really need to.

    I think I should also point out that wind power isn’t necessarily reliable, because the wind doesn’t always blow and sometimes blows too hard. Last year’s Hurricane Irene went right over the waters these turbines were supposed to inhabit. And if they’re damaged, how long does it take to repair them?

    We’ve already had the promises Bluewater Wind made get blown away, so why does our state continue to believe in this pipe dream when there is much potential energy in the western part of the state they’re ignoring?

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