St. Mary’s College faculty and students collaborated with other area institutions in a Power Dialog last week in the state capital, focusing on the Clean Power Plan. The event was part of a
nationwide educational initiative coordinated by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy to engage college students in a conversation about the Clean Power Plan and our nation’s energy future. The Clean Power Plan is a set of new rules established in August 2015 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce climate-changing carbon emissions by electric power plants. The plan allows each state flexibility in establishing its own implementation path for meeting these federal standards. The students, regulators and legislators discussed state-level implementation of the Clean Power Plan with a focus on what Maryland can do to help the U.S. cut global warming pollution 30% by 2030.
St. Mary’s College environmental studies faculty Barry Muchnick and his Salisbury University colleague Sarah Surak organized Maryland’s Power Dialog as one of more than 30 Power Dialogs held nationwide during the week of April 4. “We wanted to provide our students with a real opportunity to engage with the political process, and to meet the regulators and legislators responsible for Maryland’s energy future,” said Muchnick. In addition to engaging with decision makers, the Power Dialog provided students with a forum to share their research on important environmental topics. They discussed a range of topics related to the Clean Power Plan, including market mechanisms for incentivizing clean energy, the importance of considering environmental justice concerns, and the impact of energy systems on wildlife and ecosystem integrity.
“The Power Dialog event was a tremendous success,” Muchnick concluded. “The students really enjoyed connecting with Luke Wisniewski, chief of the Climate Change, Air and Radiation Management Administration, Maryland Department of the Environment, and with Leigh Williams, director of the Maryland Energy Administration.” Other highlights included a keynote address by Bob Musil, president of the Rachel Carson Council, an interactive political-participatory theatre workshop, with Zoe Ackerman, and a student research presentation session, where students shared infographics based on their research.
Adding to the excitement of the day was a surprise address from Maryland Delegate Kumar Barve, chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee. He announced that earlier in the morning, Maryland had passed SB 323, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which will require Maryland to reduce statewide gas emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030.
More information about the Maryland Power Dialog, as well as images of the student infographics can be found at https://mdpowerdialog.wordpress.com/.
Contributed by Kate L. Harrison