As Maryland lawmakers convene in Annapolis for a new legislative session, they will soon celebrate the two-year mark since passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019.
They may not know the extent to which the Town of Ocean City is using its tax dollars to halt offshore wind development and, by extension, stall implementation of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
Documents provided to my organization by Ocean City government under the Public Information Act reveal that more than $300,000 in taxpayer money has been spent on a futile effort to stop offshore wind energy.
Here is a partial summary of how Ocean City government reports spending public money:
Ocean City taxpayers have paid more than $120,000 to the Prince George’s County-based law firm Joseph Greenwald & Lacke to lobby Maryland’s Public Service Commission to stop offshore wind projects more than 20 miles off Maryland’s coast. That expense was in vain, since the commission unanimously rejected the town’s request last summer.
They paid $92,000 to Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano in an attempt to persuade Gov. Hogan to stop offshore wind development. That attempt failed, as Gov. Hogan endorsed offshore wind in October and joined a three-state partnership to help Maryland capture offshore wind jobs.
Baltimore PR firm KO Public Affairs was paid $45,000 by city government for what the town describes as “a letter to Ocean City residents.” Has there been a more expensive letter in Maryland history?
They paid more than $15,000 to a viewshed expert in hopes that he would persuade the Public Service Commission to prohibit a particular kind of wind turbine. That effort failed.
They paid $7,500 to an entertainment production firm to choreograph a regulatory hearing held by the Public Service Commission in January 2020. I attended the hearing. The majority of speakers were actually supporters of offshore wind.
All told, Ocean City has spent more than $300,000 in taxpayer money in an unsuccessful attempt to stop clean energy’s advancement. They have virtually no results to show for this expensive endeavor.
Tax dollars that could have helped close the city’s looming budget deficit are now in the bank accounts of out of town lawyers and lobbyists.
Ocean City government should be trying to reap the enormous economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind – not plowing tax dollars into a vain attempt to oppose clean energy and the jobs it will bring to our community. State lawmakers should do their part to remind Ocean City that the Clean Energy Jobs Act is here to stay.
Chair, Lower Shore Progressive Caucus