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Commentary By Mike Tidwell: Pass The Wind Power Bill

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An offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. Pending legislation in Maryland would build wind farms off the coast of Ocean City.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pjh/185488397/
An offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary. Pending legislation in Maryland would build wind farms off the coast of Ocean City.

As a boy, I remember sitting in my family's Ford Pinto in a four-hour long gas line during the Arab oil embargo of 1973. My dad told me then, with complete confidence, that oil would be a bad memory when I grew up. Our cars would run on something, he said, but not on this black liquid from countries that don't like us.

And I was a teenager when the Three Mile Island incident helped many Americans realize that nuclear power, despite benefits, was not that "something" to permanently solve our energy problems.

Today, gas prices are sprinting toward $4 a gallon, thanks to fighting in Libya. And traces of radiation drift toward California from Japan.

I wonder what to tell my own son. Should I give him the Winston Churchill line, with its backhanded hope: "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

Here's the bright spot: Even as Congress remains divided on energy policy, several mid-Atlantic states are moving ahead with an energy as old as Yankee tall ships and as modern as the 21st century itself: wind power.

Denmark already gets a quarter of its electricity from durable, high-tech wind turbines. And New Jersey and Delaware have adopted policies that will lead to wind farms off their coastlines.

Now it's Maryland's turn. A bill currently before lawmakers in Annapolis would lead to ocean-based wind farms 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City, potentially enough to power nearly all the homes on the Eastern Shore. The bill would also create thousands of jobs and almost certainly lower ratepayer bills in the future.

And that's just a first step. With electric cars coming soon to the mass market and with "smart grid" technology allowing us to store wind power, we could finally really begin to get off oil and avoid new nuclear plants.

Maryland lawmakers should pass the wind power bill and help lead our nation away from the tyranny of dangerous fuels. Now that finally is something!

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