The Maryland Sierra Club has kicked off a renewed effort to move the state off coal by calling for the retirement of two coal-burning power plants near Baltimore: the Charles P. Crane plant in Baltimore County and the Herbert Wagner plant in Anne Arundel County.
Last month the Club launched a letter-writing campaign to Governor Martin O'Malley, urging that he phase out the aging plants. O'Malley has pledged his support for the development of alternative energy in the state, including wind turbines off Maryland's coast.
On August 11, Club activists kayaked out to the Crane plant (above), a four-mile round trip, to get a good look at the polluting facility on Dundee Creek, about 15 miles from downtown Baltimore. Once there, they made a floating billboard spelling out the word RETIRE with the plant's smokestacks as a backdrop.
Maryland Chapter Coordinator Laurel Imlay and her 9-year-old son Rowan (below at far right) participated in the floating rally. "It takes each person doing something to make change," she told the Baltimore Sun. "Once you have kids, you realize you're leaving this planet for your children and you have to do whatever you can to take care of it." The rally also garnered media coverage in the Annapolis Capital-Gazette.
Both Baltimore and Anne Arrundel Counties suffer from failing air quality with dangerously high levels of soot and smog pollution. The non-profit Clean Air Task Force estimates that pollution from the Crane and Wagner plants contributes to more than 1,300 asthma attacks each year.
"These dirty plants have been contributing to bad air quality in Baltimore for decades," said Maryland Sierra Club organizer Chris Hill, below, who took the lead in pulling together the kayak rally. "Pollution from these plants is making our kids sick, causing asthma attacks, and contributing to heart disease, strokes, and cancer."