Statement: CCAN Thanks the Public Service Commission for Offshore Wind Decision

TAKOMA PARK, MD – Yesterday, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved changes to the plans to build offshore wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. This decision allows Skipjack Offshore Energy, a subsidiary of Danish company Ørsted,  to use a model of wind turbine that is more than 800 feet tall — about 200 feet larger than the developer’s initial proposal. 

“Ørsted is pleased that the Maryland Public Service Commission approved the project’s longstanding commitment to use the best commercially available turbine technology,” Brady Walker, Ørsted’s Mid-Atlantic Market Manager, said in a statement. “The project will continue to engage with all stakeholders on creating a project that all Marylanders can be proud of. We look forward to continuing our work in delivering clean and reliable energy to over 35,000 homes in the Delmarva region.”

In response, Mike Tidwell, CCAN Director, stated: 

“We wholeheartedly praise the Public Service Commission for making this decision. Although it has taken longer than any of us imagined it would since we passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, Maryland is now on its way to achieving clean energy through wind power. This news is especially timely as the Coronavirus crisis has devastated Maryland businesses, with one out of every six working Marylanders filing for unemployment since the pandemic started. The state has already paid out $2.2 billion in benefits with more than 70,000 displaced workers. Maryland can rebuild our economy with clean energy and climate action at the core of this recovery. The direct jobs and tax revenue are needed ASAP. And the ‘multiplier effect’ of indirect jobs is exactly what can stimulate our stagnant economy. We thank the Public Service Commission and we look forward to seeing this clean energy project completed in our state.”


Mike Tidwell, Director,, 240-460-5838
Stacy Miller, Digital Campaigns Coordinator,, 518-852-0836

Just Senior Year of College Things: Navigating Unpredictability, New Chapters, and A Global Pandemic

Written by Ravena Pernanand

Unexpected emails and last-minute packing

When the first whispers of COVID-19 were emerging in the United States, I was packing my luggage and boarding a 4am flight at JFK airport. An impending pandemic was the last thing on my mind. Rather, I was preoccupied with the tasks that awaited me at the commencement of my semester abroad in Amsterdam: grocery shopping, introductions, and a much needed nap. Needless to say, I slept like a log when orientation activities came to a close. 

Honor, a best friend from my school at home, was also taking part in the same exchange program as me. I constantly reminded myself of how thankful I was for her presence throughout the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture. Her guidance and serene disposition always balanced my moments of frantic anxiety and paranoia, these traits were most apparent when the universe threw a wrench into our semester. The weeks leading up to the dreadful email from our home institution were surreal. In the rainy Amsterdam mornings, we dragged our bodies out of bed and trudged along the cobblestone streets to class, pointing out our favorite houseboats lining the canals. On the weekends we filled ourselves to the brim with cheap wine and stroopwafel and navigated the tram system to newly discovered destinations. I often felt like I was watching my life occur from the outside as I shed old skin and re-emerged as a happier and more resilient version of myself. Somehow, five weeks managed to feel like a lifetime.

A continual buzzing sound always existed in the background of these newly formed moments, growing in volume until we had no choice but to acknowledge it. It started with reports of the virus, dubbed “corona,” circulating around Europe. “Use precaution when traveling” our program directors would say in emails that ended in soothing reassurement that the semester would proceed as planned. The background noise seemed to have a blinding effect as well. Even when friends on exchange programs in China and Italy began packing their luggages 15 weeks early, there was a disconnect between our perceived world and theirs. “Yea, it happened in Italy, but we’re totally fine–it won’t spread  here.” But slowly, the sound filled every room, every conversation, and previously suppressed thought. 

On a Wednesday morning in March, I awoke to emails of US schools closing. Twitter memes and angry Instagram stories emerged from the recesses of the digital world. When I put my phone down, I could re-enter the alternate reality that COVID-19 had not yet managed to fully consume.

On a Thursday morning, only five of the twenty wooden chairs in my Dutch language class were occupied. It seemed that many students had returned back to the States, instructed by worried parents and fast acting educational institutions. I walked home in a confused haze. Looking back on this moment, it’s laughable that I had the audacity to be shocked by these events. In the last three weeks, exchange students all around me had been falling off the European map and into airplane seats headed home.

On a Friday evening at 11pm Central European Time, the upper lefthand corner of my pillowcase began to glow. I turned my phone from its facedown position to find an email from my school: “Important Notification for Hamilton Students in Europe,” flagged red, an endless scroll of instructions for returning home, demands bolded in black, the gravity of the situation underlined in the sender’s tone.

On a Sunday morning I awoke as Amsterdam lay in a pre-dawn slumber. Sluggishly, Honor and I cleared the remaining boxes and trash bags from our studio apartment, filled with uneaten stroopwafel and recyclable glass bottles once filled with cheap wine. In a time before N95 surgical masks were added to the list of things to grab before heading out the door, (phone, keys, wallet…what am I forgetting? Ah, facemask!), I stood outside my apartment building and filled my lungs with air. 

Self care, community, and silver linings

Upon landing home and resettling into both the familiar and unfamiliar, I’ve had time to do nothing but contemplate. In fact, it feels like the universe has forced contemplation upon me like undeserved purgatory. I’m all for self reflection, but the lines between insanity and deep thought can become blurred, a spell that can only be broken by preheating the oven and willing the premature bananas on the counter to quicken their process. 

Ironically enough, in self isolation the importance of community has never felt more powerful to me. As I struggled to mold a routine from quicksand and my anxiety reached an all time high, the zoom calls and group chats kept me afloat. My friendships were silver linings: a source of calm and comfort. Though in a time when teetering from one extreme to another can become habitual, the notion of self care began to redefine itself for me: How much time was too much screen time when the outside world is only accessible through a screen? Could I interact with my friends while still taking time for myself? Was I comfortable with being alone? Do I really need to make another loaf of banana bread this week? 

This time of reflection has allowed me to understand the things that remind me of my humanity and that make me feel connected to others. Quarantine can feel stagnant and cold, but it has also been a time of extreme change. Babies have taken their first breath, couples have tied the knot, and social movements have erupted since the world has shut down. In a constant effort to feel and exist and breathe freely again, people have managed to reach each other from all ends of the world. Empathy has managed to persist even when leadership and institutions have shown callousness and ignorance. Working at CCAN this Summer has been another silver lining, an opportunity to feel connected to this outside world, a community built on a foundation of empathy. Though the physical distance and computer screens attempt to muffle this experience, my superiors and co-workers have filled this void with communication, warmth, and morale. 

As I ready myself to return to campus in the coming weeks, these concepts float around in my head: empathy, community, care, communication. I can choose to view my senior year as an experience hindered by a global pandemic. Many people are angry at lost opportunities and muted versions of their old lives, they are entitled to this anger. But in times of adversity people manage to be the most resilient versions of themselves. They shed old skin and re-emerge stronger. 

Finding Hope in the Unglamorous Climate Fights

Written by Alice Bell

I’ve always been drawn to the weird, kinda-niche parts of fighting climate change; divestment, the ins and outs of building energy codes, and so on. They’re deeply necessary, but feel sneaky because they can be very complex and don’t always get lots of airtime – they’re less obvious than renewable energy, bicycles, or LED bulbs. 

And I’ve been looking for these hidden bits my whole life. When I was in elementary school, I was a “Recycling Ranger” for two years, staying after school with other students to collect and sort the recycling from all the classrooms in the building to ensure the school kept up the program – my parents still ask me if certain things can be recycled or not. They did give us little hats with the recycling symbol on them, but it still wasn’t glamorous – it just needed doing and it was small enough for a nine-year-old to help with. 

From Recycling to Divesting

I heard about the divestment movement as a first-year at Smith College in 2017. Divestment at the college level is a topic and a strategy full of minute contradictions, multi-school organizing meetings, bureaucratic wrangling, and incredibly obscure jargon – so, of course it interested me. To divest from something refers to the choice to remove one’s investments from fossil fuels, and can be interpreted narrowly or broadly – it can also apply to other issues, such as private prisons and gun manufacturers. 

Divest strategy meeting 2019 (Alice is on the right)

My role for two years has been as a student representative to the ACIR, the advisory body for the investing committee of the board of trustees. The gulf between the students and the trustees is comically large, and also not – they are tasked with keeping Smith endowed for decades to come, while we are trying to graduate with a livable planet. Smith has a very large endowment, and as an historically women’s college, likes to think of itself as somewhat revolutionary – educating women in the 1890s and 1900s certainly went against the grain. But investing in fossil fuels is the antithesis of “being revolutionary” – in fact, it goes directly against everything we need to be doing about climate change. 

While working on divestment, my fellow students and I had to get really smart about economics, endowment structures, and institutional investing really quickly, and it was stressful and hair-raising. Spending all those hours online reading articles and jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get the board to even consider our ask took teamwork and a lot of dedication, from generations of students — but it worked. The divestment movement at Smith was twelve years old when we won a commitment from the board in October 2019 to divest the school’s endowment of fossil fuels

COVID Summer

Jules making dinner after work

Jules, one of my best friends, and I had big plans for summer 2020. We met during an eight-month political science intensive in DC last year, and we were planning to live in DC again, together; she would continue her public defense work, and I would continue my work on climate change. We would compost, bike, read, watch bad movies, and get to know this city that I grew up in and that she was transplanted to. Make no mistake, we were blindingly privileged to be able to have such plans, in part because Smith has funding for unpaid internships. 

But then the pandemic hit and her position was canceled and other internships became very thin on the ground. And out of this came my internship with CCAN, an organization that I’d been hearing about since childhood, as a communications intern, allowing me to use my love of writing and art in service of environmental activism. 

Behind the Scenes at CCAN

Every organization has a personality and an environment behind-the-scenes. Before this summer, I had spent a lot of time doing research and working on federal environmental policy. The problems there are connected but incredibly different, and the approaches are consequently different. 

I’m the communications intern, and while I love writing (even final papers), I had never done the kind of serious social media work that CCAN has taught me. Communication is a central part of the climate fight, but so is the minutiae of social media; understanding what kinds of tweets do and don’t work; how to write an event invite that engages people; refining op-eds; preparing live tweets for protests and rallies; creating and tweaking graphics for every event. Without devoted attention paid to these kinds of issues, a crucial link is lost. 

Despite working out of my parents house, never once seeing the office, and connecting with others at CCAN primarily over Slack and in Zoom happy hours, I’ve been able to build new relationships and contribute to this immense problem in my own small way. CCAN works in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, the DMV region I love so much and have been so lucky to grow up in. But this work also reflects the need to stay small; not everything can be addressed at the federal level, and we need local and regional work to really ensure communities are being adequately supported, and unique problems are being properly addressed. 

Sitting in on weekly team meetings, I’ve been able to see the tiniest hint of the work that goes into each campaign, each ask, each article published, and event hosted. Each victory, from passing the VCEA to stopping the ACP and whatever comes next, is the product of huge behind-the-scenes work and specific knowledge gained from all those who have been in this fight longer. More even than that, working specifically on communications for the first time has taught me more about how to make those shadowy topics and distinctions, the niche and sneaky parts of climate change clearer and more accessible. 

Staying Small

It can be hard to see the importance of “smaller” battles and these hidden dimensions can feel very removed from the bigger problem; I struggle against the frustration that we even have to fight on the small scale like this, when climate change should have been dealt with as the massive, urgent problem it is. After I got the news that Smith was divesting, I went back to my desk at work, struck by the incredible tension between this victory and the bigger, more stubborn needles that hadn’t moved. 

But the small battles keep you in community. I’ve met some incredible friends working on divestment, and been able to see the impact of that victory in life on campus. I got to hang out with my friends and run in the halls while collecting the recycling, big stuff for an elementary schooler. We can’t all lead marches or speak to congressional committees, nor should we, but there are a million levels to work at and a million connections to climate in everything we do. And there are local battles going on everywhere, uncountable and ever-changing – it feels like being part of an army I may never see entirely, who’s power we can only guess at because it’s bigger than anything we’ve ever seen before. 

Mountains around Smith College

Facing the COVID-19 Crisis as a College Student

Written by Abbey Kolf

Adjusting to the New Reality

It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the new year with my family on vacation, my only cares in the world being about seemingly trivial things now: my spring break trip with friends in a few months, my resolution to use less single waste plastic that I swore would stick this time, and the Wisconsin Badgers (my parents alma mater) winning the Rose Bowl football game the next day (I should have known where 2020 was headed when they ended up losing). Little did I know, half way through the second semester of my sophomore year at college I would have to pack up everything and finish out the year back in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah along with the rest of my family of five due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

At first, the complete absurdity and newness of being a college student from home was not so bad, and maybe even a bit exciting. I got to spend some rare time with my whole family, have home cooked meals every night, and have an excuse to not leave the house all day (a dream for an introvert like me). This mindset soon faded once it became apparent that having three young adults trying to attend school virtually and a parent working from home all under one roof was going to be quite the challenge and would last longer than anticipated. While wifi issues were constant and too much time together led to petty arguments, my family and I eventually adjusted to the new “normal”.

Moving Forward into more Uncertainty…

After being home for the last 5 months, I am now preparing to head back across the country to start my junior year of college on campus (shout out Villanova University). It is safe to say that it is going to be a semester unlike any other. The majority of my classes will continue to be online, social interactions and events will be sparse, and masks will (hopefully) be worn everywhere.

While I am excited to see my friends and be back on the campus that I know and love, I am also overwhelmed. I’m someone who has always hated traveling into uncharted territory. There are so many unknowns about the rest of my year: Are we going to be sent home again if things go south? Am I going to be miserable and want to kill my roommates? Will college even be fun anymore? It has been hard to stay optimistic about what’s next when unanswerable questions like these are repeatedly brought to mind.

…And Looking Back

As the time with my family in Utah during this pandemic is coming to a close, I am reflecting on how my life has changed over the past five months. While it is easy to dwell on all of the parts that the COVID-19 outbreak may have taken away, I have found that there are a lot of amazing things in my life that were made possible because of the unfortunate circumstances.

Sure, I lost a few months of making memories with my college friends and cannot look forward to having a traditional college experience this fall, but I got to spend (probably too much) time with the people that I love who I normally don’t get to see during the school year, including my pet cat whom I adore.

The places I could go and things I could do have been limited because of social distancing guidelines, but these limitations pushed me to get outside more. I fell back in love with the omnipresent natural beauty of my home state through scenic drives up the canyon, hikes in the majestic mountains, and watching the vivid sunsets from my local park. I am reminded of where my intense love for the environment and devotion to protect it started.

I missed out on a summer of working in D.C., but going virtual gave me the opportunity to join the Empowher BA Women’s Alliance where I made lasting connections with other inspiring young women. I became a trained Climate Reality Leader, furthering my knowledge of climate change and how to fight it. I even interned with CCAN, an unknown nonprofit to me when I started but which I’m now passionate about supporting.

Moral of the story, 2020 may have turned life completely upside down and taken a lot of things from us all. However, as cliche as it may sound, it is important to recognize the challenges as opportunities for growth and ask yourself: What has this year given me?

Another Maryland Coal Plant Suddenly Retires

GenOn Files to Deactivate Another MD Coal-Fired Power Plant in 2021

Sudden announcement underscores the need for economic transition of Maryland’s remaining coal plantThursday, August 13, 2020Contact: 

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD –  Earlier this week, GenOn Holdings filed for deactivation of their two coal-fired power units at the Chalk Point Generating Station. The filing formally initiates the retirement process and establishes the retirement date for the two units on June 1, 2021. The announcement comes as GenOn’s Dickerson coal plant prepares to retire today. Chalk Point is one of six large power plants in Maryland that entered 2020 still burning expensive, climate-polluting coal and facing the unviability of fossil fuels in Maryland’s clean energy future leaving workers with uncertainty.  

In 2019, Maryland’s six coal plants generated less than 10% of the electricity sold in the state but emitted over half of the climate-disrupting carbon dioxide from in-state power plants. The coal industry is in a precipitous decline in today’s energy market because outdated dirty fuels have been unable to compete with less costly and cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. The decline has been further accelerated by the urgent need to address toxic pollution, public health, and the existential threat of the climate crisis. 

Despite the Chalk Point announcement, and GenOn’s closure of the coal-burning units at the Dickerson plant this month, Marylanders in Charles County will still have to contend with serious pollution from the GenOn-owned Morgantown coal plant. The Morgantown coal-fired power plant has faced a sharp decline in use, but its operation still harms Maryland’s air and water. GenOn, the out-of-state operator of these coal plants, has a history of failing to comply with environmental regulations and fighting against clean water protections.

The speed of the decline of the coal industry underscores the need for the state to develop a plan to support impacted communities and workers. 

The Senior Campaign Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign David Smedick released the following statement in response

“Today’s announcement is yet another indicator that the coal industry is quickly dwindling and being outcompeted by affordable clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The two coal units at Chalk Point have been operating and emitting toxic pollution for over 50 years using out-dated technology. Now, impacted workers and communities that have been subjected to the environmental and public health risks caused by these units have less than 11 months to prepare for this impact without robust full fossil fuel transition support programs in place, all during a global pandemic and economic crisis. 

“Maryland urgently needs a statewide, coordinated plan to manage the inevitable transition off of dirty coal to clean energy. We need our state elected officials to bring together front line community members, impacted workers, local advocates, and industry leaders to construct a plan that advances the state beyond coal while providing ample support to our most impacted workers and communities.”

Delegate Kumar Barve (D17), Chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, released the following statement:

“The closing of the Dickerson and Chalk Points coal-fired power units are the latest in a long market trend away from burning dirty coal and towards efficient clean energy.  While the decline of the industry is happening at a frenetic pace, some of these plants remain online and are still dumping heavy pollution in Maryland’s air. The time is now to pass legislation to break free of coal and incentivize cleaner resources while investing in creation of family supporting jobs in technologies like energy storage and grid upgrades.   ”

Willie Flowers, President, NAACP Maryland State Conference, released the following statement:

“The closing of Chalk Point demonstrates the collective power of a community united. Many voices, including those of the NAACP, and other activists, were unified in demanding “a better way” to deliver clean energy to the State of Maryland.  The NAACP Maryland State Conference, is working with industry and political leaders to take this monumental win to the next level. Our efforts to transition to renewable energy will continue as we launch our Maryland Solar Equity Initiative 2020. We hope Marylanders will support us as we partner with civic, corporate and the legislature to provide job training and placement, homeowner education and legislative guidance to spread the good word about renewable energy.  These plant closings validate our efforts and inspire us to continue doing what we do. ”  

Senator Brian Feldman (D15), Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement:

“Given the conversations I am part of with legislative leaders and energy policy makers from around the country and even internationally, the closures of Dickerson in my Senate district and now Chalk Point, were not surprising.  As Maryland transitions off of coal, it is our responsibility to lead a conversation among all stakeholders to develop a thoughtful transition plan for the sake of the workers, ratepayers, and vulnerable residents who suffer from adverse health effects caused by these facilities.”

Senator Chris West (D42), released the following statement:

“The declining economics of coal are undeniable and the market has shown we have cleaner and more efficient ways to produce energy. As a parent, I’m also eager to address our climate crisis. The General Assembly must show leadership and set a firm date to move off coal-fired electricity and establish a plan that takes care of hard-working Marylanders and provides certainty for workers, local government and ratepayers during  this unavoidable transition.”

Leah Kelly, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, released the following statement:

“The coal units at Chalk Point have been operating for over 50 years, discharging toxic pollutants into waterways and releasing greenhouse gases and health-harming pollutants into the air every year. This dinosaur technology is no longer competitive with cleaner energy sources. Maryland needs to move forward as quickly as possible with industries like offshore wind that can provide clean energy and good-paying jobs.”

Janet Gingold, Chair & Lily Fountain, Vice Chair of Sierra Club Prince Georges County Group, released a statement: 

“GenOn’s decision to deactivate the Chalk Point coal units emphasizes the need for the state to step up to provide support for displaced workers to transition to jobs in the clean energy economy. We are looking forward to the decreased levels of air and water pollution, acid rain, greenhouse gases, and global and local climate change, as well as decreased rates of asthma, heart and lung diseases from the closure of the Chalk Point Coal Units.” 

Anne Havemann, General Counsel with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, released the following statement: 

“The coal industry is collapsing, and Maryland needs to prepare for it. Laying off workers in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis is not the way forward. Instead, let’s chart a path towards clean, renewable energy that provides jobs for workers currently in the fossil fuel industry and elsewhere. With fossil fuels on the way out, and in the midst of an unprecedented economic recession caused by an international pandemic, Maryland should prioritize rebuilding with clean energy and climate solutions. Maryland needs a climate stimulus.”

Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Director of Faithful Advocacy for Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), released the following statement:

“People of faith know that caring for our communities means transitioning away from coal as a power source. We see the closing of the Chalk Point coal units as essential for the health of our state, our climate, our neighbors, and ourselves. 

“But as people of faith, we care also for our neighbors who work at Chalk Point. We’ve called on our elected officials to provide funding for a just transition so that we could avoid this very situation—workers and their families given less than a year to plan for the loss of their livelihoods. Faithful Marylanders know that a clean energy economy is our future, and our communities are depending on our elected officials to chart the path forward.”

Chispa Maryland Director Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Released the following statement 

“Plant closures in Maryland will affect workers, communities and families, leaving them in especially precarious conditions during uncertain economic times and under a pandemic. The Chalk Point closing underscores the need for an equitable, enforceable transition plan for moving Maryland off coal and towards a clean energy economy that supports workers and communities.” 

Frederick Tutman, Riverkeeper at Patuxent Riverkeeper released the following statement:

“Residents in the Brandywine area and of course the Patuxent River have suffered enough from the persistent and egregious environmental problems  caused by this plant and its various coal related waste streams and other impacts for decades. The posture of this plant with its neighbors and the environment has generally reflected environmental indifference and injustice throughout its tenure. It’s high time for a change, and even one more day of coal power generation at Chalk Point is too much. But we’ll take this latest bid for an alternate fuel source as a long overdue step in the right direction.”

Contact: Pablo Willis,; Denise Robbins,

Photo at the top from a 2011 CCAN candlelight vigil against coal