Letter from the Director

It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times. 

Or so it seems lately in our country. Covid-19. Police brutality. The recession. And, in case anyone has forgotten, the climate keeps changing faster and faster. The temperature reached nearly 101 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia last week, inside the Arctic Circle. That just flat out scares me. 

And, like most of you, CCAN has been very busy on many fronts this spring and summer. In April, thanks to a Zoom comedy show, we raised nearly $3,000 for the Capital Area Food Bank. In June, we joined the Movement for Black Lives to fight against runaway police budgets and abuse against Black and Brown communities. And all the while we’ve maintained the fight against climate change in the Chesapeake region and nationwide while protecting our staff through work-at-home practices and safe protesting in the streets. 

But here’s the thing: The only long-term solution to all of these problems is to elect competent leaders at the polls. And, you may have heard, there’s an election coming up in November – the most important in our lives. Which is why our sister organization, CCAN Action Fund, has launched a campaign to fight voter suppression everywhere and get everyone to vote. Won’t you join us by signing the “Fight to Vote” pledge?

Meanwhile, again, we’ve been busy on the climate front. In Virginia, we worked with an incredible coalition to help pass the Clean Economy Act, a bill that sets the state on a pathway toward 100% clean electricity while mandating the shutdown of all the states dirty fossil fuel power plants. 

In Maryland, we’ve joined wind and solar advocates in asking the Public Service Commission to speed up development of offshore wind farms, land-based wind, and utility-scale solar projects. We were pleased when the PSC voted in June to approve the long-delayed Dan’s Mountain wind farm in Western Maryland. Now the commission must do more, especially for solar power.

Finally, in DC, we cheered on the filing of a historic lawsuit. On June 23rd, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia Karl Racine filed a consumer protection suit against ExxonMobil and several other oil giants. The suit demands the oil companies financially compensate DC residents for the harmful climate change impacts already underway. The flooding and heatwaves we’re seeing now were effectively created by decades of tobacco-like denial of the science on the part of the polluters. Similar cases have been filed nationwide. The tide is turning. We’ll keep you posted.

And before I go, I want to give a shout out to a new book by former CCAN employee and climate legend Ted Glick. His book “Burglar for Peace” chronicles his dramatic efforts during the Vietnam War to destroy selective service draft records, including his own draft card, and the subsequent trials and time in prison he spent for this righteous activism. It’s an amazing read with lessons for modern-day activists fighting against the violence of climate change and for the peace of clean power. Check it out. 

Meanwhile, stay safe and well. And sign the pledge to get everyone to the polls in November. 


Mike Tidwell

Ahead of Vote, Dozens of Organizations Call on State to Reject Proposed Investments in Controversial Gas Retrofits at State Facility on the Eastern Shore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, (202) 997-2466

Retrofits are Premature and Would Increase Use of Fossil Fuels, Hurt Maryland’s  Push for More Renewable Energy and Create Health and Safety Risks

Citing climate change, environmental, and public health concerns, 32 environmental organizations are calling on the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject a proposal to invest half a million dollars for retrofits at the Eastern Correctional Institution, which would allow the state facility to begin to convert to burning fracked gas. The Eastern Correctional Institution will be an end-user of two pipelines that have not yet been fully permitted, and these investments are premature. The groups’ overarching concerns stem from plans to expand fracked gas pipelines on the Eastern Shore as part of a project to switch energy production at two state facilities to fracked gas.

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) is seeking approval to build 19 miles of new pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Delaware into Maryland. The seven miles of the “Del-Mar” Pipeline to be built in Maryland would connect with a separate 11-mile pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities. 

The Chesapeake Utilities project is designed to provide fracked gas to two state facilities, Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), which would both switch their heating systems from other sources to fracked gas as part of this plan. 

The organizations are urging the Board, made up of the governor, state comptroller and treasurer, to halt investments in the project and recommit to renewable energy sources for state institutions. 

“Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of pipelines,” the letter states. “Moreover, enabling fossil fuel production runs counter to our state’s goals of increasing renewable energy production. We are appalled that the request for proposals put out by the State of Maryland to repower the university and prison foreclosed the possibility of clean energy by only requesting applications for fracked gas. We are equally angered that this proposal to repower with dangerous fracked gas is being touted as a ‘clean alternative.’” 

Click here for a copy of the letter.

UMES and ECI currently use environmentally harmful sources to heat their facilities (UMES relies on propane and oil and ECI relies on burning wood chips). By converting to fracked gas, however, these facilities are trading one harmful source for another. 

The Board of Public Works is expected to consider two contracts totaling $514,250 for planning and engineering of the ECI power plant conversion at its July 1st meeting. 

“With clean, renewable energy affordable and abundant right now, it makes no sense for the state to commit to burning dangerous fracked gas at ECI’s power plant,” said Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group. “Marylanders overwhelmingly prefer investing in clean energy solutions instead of committing to decades of dependence on fracked gas. At a time when Maryland is considering major budget cuts, we should not waste money on climate-disrupting fossil fuel projects.”    

The construction and operation of the Del-Mar Pipeline would impact 1,239 square feet of streams and over 16,000 square feet of wetlands in Maryland. ESNG plans to install its pipeline through at least one older, forested wetland that is vulnerable to construction-related impacts using the destructive “open trench” method of construction. While the specifics of the 11-mile Chesapeake Utilities pipeline are not yet known, similar impacts to our regional water resources are likely. 

“As a kid growing up on the Eastern Shore, I knew there was nothing you could ever offer me that would get me to allow you to poison my marsh,” said Dan O’Hare, President of Wicomico Environmental Trust. “We know pipelines leak. And when they do, they will make our community sick. We will suffer. We know fracked gas is one of the main culprits in causing the waters to rise and destroy our coasts. What value could there possibly be to us to allow this remnant of the dying industrial era to endanger our wetlands, our water, and the health of our community?”

“As someone with a background in environmental studies and marine science, I do not support UMES’s decision to utilize fracked gas as a means to heat the facilities when alternatives were not properly considered,” said Madeline Farmer, a graduate student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. “The decision to support a fracked-gas pipeline is inconsistent with UMES’s reputation as one of the most eco-friendly Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. As one of the greenest HBCUs, it’s important that we continue to lead the green movement and set an example for other universities across the State of Maryland and the nation.”

The Eastern Shore of Maryland has been called “ground zero” for sea level rise due to climate change. It makes no sense to invest in pipelines that will lock the state into decades of reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. 

In addition to violating the spirit of Maryland’s renewable energy commitments and fracking ban, the pipelines would also endanger public health. 

“We are concerned that we are being asked to put our environment and public health at risk for a pipeline that we may not have use for in the near future as our state and the country moves towards clean energy,” the letter states. 

The following organizations have signed on to the letter sent to the Board of Public Works:

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

Greenbelt Climate Action Network

Manokin River Keepers

Maryland Legislative Coalition

Parkertown Car Care

Maryland Chapter, Lower Eastern Shore Sierra Club

Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter


Talbot County Hunger Coalition

Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Audubon Maryland-DC

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Ridge to Reefs

Talbot Preservation Alliance

Assateague Coastal Trust   

Organization of Environmental States

Wicomico Environmental Trust


Howard County Climate Action

Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community

Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee

Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace

Clean Air Prince Georges

Wicomico Interfaith Alliance

Wicomico County Creekwatchers

Environmental Justice Ministry Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

Indivisible Howard County

Harford County Climate Action

The Climate Mobilization, Montgomery County

League of Women Voters of Maryland

Cecil Solidarity