Baltidome Blog | Baltimore Green News

Things That Make You Go Hmm… Constellation Energy Backs Fed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
May 19, 2009, 12:34 pm
Filed under: News, Nuclear Energy | Tags: , ,
Calvert Cliffs, Maryland

Calvert Cliffs, Maryland

If you live in Baltimore and have not yet made the switch to a new energy supplier, then you are currently getting your energy from BGE’s parent company, Baltimore-based Constellation Energy.  Constellation Energy is not known for green practices, so it is not surprising that one might question its motives behind the backing of the Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill currently under debate.  According to an article out today in Reuters, “at the heart of the bill is the establishment of a ‘cap and trade’ system that would gradually reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that utilities, steelmakers, oil refineries and other companies could emit”.  So, why is Constellation so ready to hop on board?

Well, Constellation is currently moving forward with a plan to build a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.  No new nuclear reactors have been built in the U.S. in a decade, but according to an article in the DailyRecord today, “an interest in nuclear energy has resurfaced in the last few years”.While not considered by many to be “green energy” (you do have all that toxic waste at the end and all), nuclear energy does provide less greenhouse emissions than coal.  A government bill requiring companies to cap their emissions would likely make the installation of the new reactor smooth sailing for Constellation Energy.  The added bonus –a deal is pending between Constellation and Electricite de France for EDF to buy half of Constellation’s nuclear power business.


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This ‘Waxman Markey’ bill has generated a huge amount of discussion in the environmental community since it passed out of committee 5-21-09. (And we’ve been working committee member MD congressman John Sarbanes a lot, and still are). This is sort of the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the first bill congress is likely to pass (and is likely ever to pass) that could put us on a new energy path. Of course, we are all disappointed that it isn’t stronger – and two environmental groups have even withdrawn support: Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth. Some parts of it are *very* strong.

(The bill we would prefer, if *we* got to choose, would be MD Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s ‘Cap & Dividend’ bill in the House Ways & Means Committee – which is awesome. Unfortunately, that bill doesn’t seems to be moving forward, but we are fighting for at least some of its features to be adopted in whatever bill finally emerges.

(UNFORTUNATELY), the way politics works, the Waxman-Markey bill is the only game in town right now – and our only chance to avert catastrophic change for hundreds of generations and the end of civilization as we know it. (It’s not just about “your children and grandchildren”). (Sorry to sound so dramatic).

I know the first instinct is sometimes: are we better off with no bill at all, so we can come back and get a better one? No time for that. (One reason is that the U.S. needs to have something on the table in Dec 2009 at the Copenhagen treaty negotiations – so that China & other countries get on board. Some have called this the world’s last chance). And this bill could get us to where we need to be. This is a very important time for us to be contacting our representatives in congress & President Obama – screaming that the bill needs to be strengthened.

The best place to understand this a little better IMO is to check out the analysis at – the indispensable independent climate blog from Joe Romm (Ctr for American Progress). Look for a post from around 5-22-09 (the day after the bill came out of committee). Joe Romm is someone I really trust. He’s a a regular guest on (awesome show – available for podcast). You can also read some pros and cons on

Comment by Joe Adams

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