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Ehrlich's Place in the Sun


There was good and bad news for Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday after he traveled to BP Solar North America's headquarters in Frederick to outline his stance on a range of issues dealing with renewable energy.

In his speech, the Republican talked of energy programs he has launched and of those he pledged to support, such as a plan to require each state agency to purchase 10 percent of its electricity from such renewable sources as wind and solar power.

Solar panels could power such prominent public buildings as the State Center office complex in downtown Baltimore and the Maryland Science Center in the city's Inner Harbor.

The good news: The proposals won praise from two groups that have been critical of him. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Clean Energy Partnership issued a joint release saying they "applauded" Ehrlich's commitment to reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

Not as good: The praise was pretty faint. Gary Skulnik, of the Clean Energy Partnership, said in an interview that he was concerned Ehrlich's announcement was more about politics than policy.

"He talks about things that could be done in the future, but there are an awful lot of things he could be doing right now to get us on the right path," Skulnik said, adding that he considered Ehrlich's term "somewhat disappointing."

Right now, none of the 1 billion kilowatts of electricity that the state government uses annually comes from renewable sources, the Associated Press reported. This despite a 2001 executive order signed by Ehrlich's Democratic predecessor, Parris N. Glendening, that required the state to obtain 6 percent of its electricity from alternatives to fossil fuels. Michael Li of the Maryland Energy Administration said no budget was established for the Glendening program.

Matt Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  July 11, 2006; 10:09 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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I'm glad Governor Ehrlich is promoting alternative energy, but talk is cheap.

Glendening ordered 6% of the state government's electricity comsumption to come from renewable sources, it's been 5 years and that order has yet to be funded. Now Ehrlich wants to do even more, bump it up to 10%, but where's the funding? Is this an empty promise or will he put his budget where his mouth is?

I hope he follows through, but it would seem that the enviros are right to be skeptical.

- Russ Louch

Posted by: Russ Louch | July 11, 2006 11:45 AM | Report abuse

This is more point scoring crap from Ehrlich. As much as I don't like Ehrlich, if he took on a really huge initiative that would put Maryland on the map as a leader of renewable energy I could be swayed in his favor. If Ehrlich wanted to be seen as a true leader he should take a risk and really lead on this important issue. Evangelical Christians who are generally a strong part of the Republican base are even demanding more action on this front (environmental issues in general). With taking risks can come great rewards. If he had the guts to really put some effort into this, it could not only help the environment (Maryland has horrible air quality), but also create jobs. More empty talk from Ehrlich as usual...

Posted by: Mr. K | July 11, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Ehrlich has squandered any support he might have been expecting from the Evangelical Christians.

Attempting to fund Glendening's bogus alternative energy PR stunt won't get him anywhere, either. That was a lame platitude to certain portions of the Democrat base when it came into existance and they won't make the shift just because the money that Parris promised might finally be on its way.

Posted by: Rufus | July 11, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Another question just as important as what renewable energy sources Maryland is using is in what renewable energy sources and ordinary energy sources are the people who run Maryland's pension funds investing? Ever since gasoline went above $2 per gallon and oil above $35 per barrel energy stocks have been a very good investments. Yet, Montgomery County which is facing a $650 million GM-like underfunding of county employee pension benefits, does not present an energy investment fund option to county employees for pension investments.

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Independent for Montgomery County Executive | July 11, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Dear Guv, why now? Why didn't you do this years ago? I thought renewable energy existed before you were running for re-election!

What a complete scam. This guy is absolutely unbelievable.

Posted by: Jim | July 11, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey, could someone flush the links to the looney tunes blogs? Thanks!

Posted by: Rufus | July 12, 2006 8:48 AM | Report abuse

You guys crack me up. Ehrlich is the evil one now for following up on an old suggestion. Most of you aren't arguing against it, but he's doing something for the wrong reasons. I'd rather something be done that is good for the wrong reasons than nothing at all.

Please show me where the GA or O'Malley have tried anything remotely similiar in the past?

Right, they haven't.

Your guys selective indigination is astounding.

Posted by: Bryan | July 12, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Bryan - I think Ehrlich's proposal has merit. It's small potatoes, but hey, you take what you can get. But don't give him all the credit... he's basically revamping Parris Glendening's old exec order.

He didn't fund Glendening's program when he took office a short time later. Will he bother to fund his own proposal? I didn't hear anything about it in this past legislative session, but I'll be glad to offer him props if he does follow through in his next budget.

- Russ Louch

Posted by: Russ Louch - Political Yak | July 12, 2006 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I'd echo Russ here. Just because, in an election year, Ehrlich has all of a sudden figured out that the environment is worth doing something about, doesn't mean he will follow through if re-elected (which he won't be). Just like he promised in his original campaign to fully fund Thornton and never did. Or cut funding for the universities for three eyars and then restored funding last year to where it was when he started and claimed that he has massively increased the funding.

Posted by: MoCoPolitics | July 13, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

You guys still have me laughing.

Just because it's an election year he finds the environment...

Wait, didn't he get the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act passed in the begining of his Administration?

The supposedly 'pro-environmental' MGA took all of 1 day to label it the 'flush tax'.

Here's what I don't get. Why after 40 years will you guys continue to write blank check excuses for the Democrats in power, but when a Republican comes into town and starts delivering results you whine not enough (and not enough when it is 10x done by anyone before him)? Is your argument really going to yah those last 40 yrs we were just waiting for a real reason to act and a Republican gave us that reason?

You may not like Ehrlich's party affiliation, but sometimes judging people by what they do and don't do is more important than judging them by the color of their skin, the letter next to their name or their religion.

You guys have no problem telling me how great O'Malley is with these grand promises he makes, but I challenge you to show me any environmental initiatives he's done in Baltimore....and I don't count being sued by the EPA multiple times as an 'accomplishment'.

Ehrlich promises no sales tax or income taxes increases--we had none (despite attempts to create some). Ehrlich promised to work for the Bay and newly into office we got the CBRA. Ehrlich promises to fund Thornton, and he did. About the only promise he wasn't able to keep was slots...and frankly, that's water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Bryan | July 13, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Bryan wrote: "Ehrlich promises no sales tax or income taxes increases...."

Yeah, Ehrlich prefers to hit the average Maryland family with $1500 in increased fees, tolls, etc. But you're right, he doesn't call them "taxes." And on top of that his last budget showed that he will leave the next guv a $3+ billion deficit.


Bryan wrote: "Ehrlich promises to fund Thornton, and he did."

Right, again, except not quite the whole story. In 2003 he orchestrated a GOP measure in the MGA which altered the funding timeline for Thornton giving himself years and years more time before the plan would have to be completely funded. The end result is that past/current Thornton levels are lower than originally planned but will reach the goal... eventually. Additionally, he has opposed the recommended Geographic Cost of Education Index that would increase edcation funds for many areas of the state, and he has woefully underfunded the Kopp Commission (aka Thornton II) recommendations on school construction budgets.

As for the envirnoment.... The CBRA was a welcome piece of legislation, but the rest of Ehrlich's track record is suspect: cutting state EPA funds, lack of progress on air pollution, gutting of the previous administration's land preservation efforts, selling off state lands, etc

Ehrlich should get credit for his record, no doubt about that, but it should be his whole record, not just selected parts.

- Russ Louch

Posted by: Russ Louch - Political Yak | July 13, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Bryan, when a Republican actually is pro-environment, I have no problem coming out and applauding him or her for it. Congressman Gilchrest, for example, has done more for the bay than a lot of Dems in the state. But one bill and a campaign pledge makes Ehrlich an environmentalist? That doesn't pass the laugh test.

Posted by: MoCoPolitics | July 13, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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