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Harford County Climate Action opposes opening coastline up to offshore oil drilling [Commentary]

The following was provided by Harford County Climate Action:

A vocal group of 20 people including 5 middle and high school students braved the frigid winds Friday, January 2, to oppose the Trump administration's move to open nearly the entire United States coastline to offshore drilling. They were met with approving honks and thumbs-up signs from passersby. Representative Andy Harris stated in a recent interview with WYPR that he would be open to offshore drilling in Maryland provided that it was out of sight and the communities agreed to it.

Speaking at the rally outside Harris' office, a speaker from Harford County Climate Action declared that HCCA opposes putting any new money into development of fossil fuel resources, including projects like Transource Power’s proposed power lines through northern Harford County, off shore drilling, and the Potomac pipeline proposed for western Maryland. Addressing Andy Harris, she added, "When you support Trump's agenda more that you support your own constituents and your own shoreline, we will vote you out of office."

Governor Larry Hogan has applied for Maryland to be exempt from offshore drilling. While appreciating this move, Aravinda Pillalamarri, a constituent from Bel Air noted that the protection of the ocean and the climate should not depend on an exemption. "We must reverse this policy and keep drilling off limits, period. If we want to safeguard this planet for future generations, we need to conserve energy, and what we do use must come from renewable sources that do not emit greenhouse gases or toxins."

Others including several students talked about the importance of wind energy in contributing to the renewable energy portfolio and in creating jobs in the state. Demonstrators carried small model windmills and chanted, "We want windmills, not more oil drills!" Aarnav Devulapalli, a student from Edgewood Middle School, talked about the risk of an oil spill and its impact on marine life, seafood and human health. Khiyali Pillalamarri, who attends Aberdeen High School, noted that even the normal operation of oil rigs causes air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, and that following an oil spill, chemicals used in “clean-up” are toxic as well.

Steve Preston, a constituent from Abingdon noted that the tariff recently imposed on imported solar panels is likely to kill some renewable energy jobs. He supports legislation now being considered in Annapolis that would push Maryland towards the goal of 100% clean energy and clean energy jobs development. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act will protect and even increase solar jobs at risk because of the tariff.

Alison Kinney, a high school student from Port Deposit did not mince words. "As much as Andy Harris may wish we did," she said, "we do not yet live in the dystopian world of George Orwell’s novel, 1984.... We remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We are not going to leave up to chance the risk of experiencing our own Deepwater oil spill here along the Atlantic... especially when there is a vast untapped potential for developing renewable energy jobs on those same waters!"

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