Offshore wind could breathe jobs into county -- Gazette.Net


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Offshore wind is not a fantasy blowing in the breeze, rather it is an exciting energy source that holds the promise of stimulating economic growth and creating jobs across Maryland while cleaning up our air and improving public health. We need bold, innovative thinking from our leaders to support this effort. As leaders of Prince George’s County, we need to take the long view, taking into account the economy and the environment. Offshore wind can be a win-win for our county, cleaning up our air and improving public health.

Wind may be the next big job creator, and we want to ensure that Prince George’s County reaps the benefits. If Maryland does not take bold action now, the entire state may miss out on this opportunity. The proposed offshore wind bill would create 1,300 jobs a year during eight years of construction and 300 permanent jobs. With unemployment remaining high in predominately African-American communities from the Eastern Shore to Prince George’s County, this is a critical issue right now.

Prince George’s County individuals and businesses are ready to take advantage of this new industry. For several years, Prince George’s Community College has trained dozens of students in energy systems, manufacturing and green design. In the last two years, United Communities Against Poverty has offered pre-apprentice job training and placement for Prince George’s County youth in green industries. Furthermore, our county is home to several business-incubation programs that are beginning to focus on green industries. This legislation already takes the first step by asking applicants to demonstrate their commitment to engaging minority-owned businesses. Business incubator programs can help ensure that jobs are distributed equally and that all Marylanders can take advantage of this opportunity.

Additionally, offshore wind promises health benefits for our county. Prince George’s County is home to one of the oldest coal-fired power plants in the state. By avoiding harmful emissions from fossil fuels, a 500 megawatt wind park off the coast of Maryland will save 20 to 30 lives and $160 million in public-health damages every year.

Lastly, we want to emphasize that offshore will help our energy costs. From 1999 to 2009, energy prices for Marylanders roughly doubled, and a recent survey found a majority of Marylanders believe they will continue to go up. Wind is a stable resource, offering consistent and predictable prices.

There are certainly details to be worked out, but these shouldn’t stand in the way of this important project. We are going to fight for this bill, and we ask our citizens and state representatives to do the same.

Capitol Heights Mayor Kito James and Forest Heights Mayor Jacqueline Goodall