Beyond Coal

Campaign Goals: 

1. Eliminating pollution from the Crane and Wagner coal-fired power plants in Baltimore, either by installing modern pollution safeguards, or by scheduling the retirement of the coal-burning units.

2.  Raising the Renewable [energy] Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 20% to 40%. 

SUPPORT HB 1149 and SB 733, 734, "Cleaner Power, Brighter Maryland”. The state’s electricity should come from clean renewable energy sources and the state’s utilities should be doing more to help Marylanders conserve energy. We will submit testimony and testify before legislative committees in support of this goal.

3. SUPPORT HB 747,  "Renewable Portfolio Standard Qualifying Biomass”. Removing black liquor (BL) and wood waste (WW) from the RPS.  Black liquor is a byproduct of paper production. These polluting fuels are not clean or renewable and they have no place in the RPS. We will submit testimony and testify before legislative committees in support of this goal.

4. Supporting community renewables.

"Community Renewable Energy" SUPPORT SB 786/HB 1192We are working with other environmental groups around the state toward establishing a pilot program that will make it easier for anyone to invest in renewable energy – even if your house is shaded or you live in a condominium. We will submit testimony and testify before legislative committees in support of this goal.

5. Enhancing EmPOWER Maryland.

We want the state, the state’s utilities, and other stakeholders to succeed in lowering energy usage which will lead to lower energy bills and cleaner air, through the 2008 EmPOWER Maryland law. We are part of groups within the Maryland Energy Administration working to improve EmPOWER implementation.

6. Stopping or reducing the export of coal from Maryland and the transportation of coal through the state.

Baltimore is a major hub for transportation of coal and exports. This coal is offloaded from trains, stored by the harbor, or loaded on ships. When dry coal dust blows off, it pollutes the air and also settles into the nearby Chesapeake Bay. When it rains, runoff channels pollution into the Bay.

Leaders: The Maryland Chapter's Priority Conservation Campaign "Beyond Coal" is coordinated by the Energy Committee, led by Rich Reis (rich.reis1[@] Volunteers are needed; find out what you can do with the Beyond Coal Team.


  • we plan to testify at upcoming state hearings on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution attributed to coal-fired power plants
  • click here to sign our letter to the Governor regarding closure of the Crane and Wagner coal-fired power plants
  • see the media ad campaign urging the Governor to close the Crane and Wagner coal-fired power plants
  • urge Secretary Summers to issue new regulations for the power plants

Beyond Coal Campaign: Background


Maryland's handful of remaining coal-fired power plants include two that have threatened public health in the area for decades. We are targeting these two plants in particular because of their age, the high amount of pollution they release, and the small amount of energy they produce. The Charles P. Crane and Herbert A. Wagner coal plants in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties have yet to either install modern pollution safeguards or make a commitment to retire their coal units. 

Pollution from coal-fired power plants is one of the largest sources of air pollution in the US. In the US, 1 out of 10 children suffer from asthma -- it is the number-one illness that causes kids to miss school. Pollution from coal-fired power plants leads to smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties.  Pollution from these plants puts Baltimore area kids at risk where they play outside, including in public parks, recreation areas and over 100 schools in the region, as well as in residential areas and parts of Baltimore’s downtown business district. It is time that our Maryland coal plants begin to internalize their public health and environmental costs, which the public has been forced to bear to date.

Pollution from coal-fired power plants contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States and adds nearly $62 billion per year to health-care costs. This pollution is also the single largest contributor to global warming, responsible for 39 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.

From the time it’s ripped from the earth till the time its toxic residues are collected from power plants, coal harms our health and makes our planet increasingly inhospitable to human and other life.


Pollutant: Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur dioxide or SO2 is classified as a harmful pollutant. The EPA sets limits on how much can accumulate in our air. Sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks, airway constriction, and other respiratory problems. Exposure to sulfur dioxide pollution for even five minutes can make it hard for a person to breathe and high levels of SO2 can send people to the emergency room. This is especially dangerous for the nearly 10 percent of all people in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties who suffer from asthma, especially the 35,000 kids who have pediatric asthma.

The state of Maryland currently allows these plants to emit toxic sulfur dioxide pollution at levels that would cause four times the concentration of pollution that our federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed safe. Read more about the plant's toxic SO2 plumes in this report. Other information on the issue is listed below. 

Outing and Activities

We are offering events that highlight the issues around energy and the environment. Last fall we hosted a nature walk and conversation on coal, energy, and pollution at Fort Smallwood Park near the Wagner generating station. This winter we are planning to show the documentary, "Coal Country", at our chapter office in College Park, with future showings at other locations.

Related outing: kayaking trip on Dundee Creek in Gunpowder Falls State Park, passing C. P. Crane Power Plant; 5 miles total.

Map and outline of trip:  BeyondCoalKayakMapScript.pdf
Information to share with participants:  CPCraneKayakScript.pdf