Oh, Baltimore – Ain’t it Hard Just to Live

By May 10, 2007Energy

A Baltimore Sun columnist bemoans the high cost of energy and its impact on Maryland’s manufacturing sector and the state’s economy:

First there was Eastalco. The Frederick County aluminum refinery closed in late 2005 because local electricity had gotten too expensive to operate the facility profitably. Six hundred jobs disappeared.

Now high megawatt costs threaten other Maryland manufacturers, which have shed nearly 40,000 jobs since 2000, according to the Labor Department.

No other major employer seems close to shutting down. But in some cases local plants are losing business to regions with cheaper electricity or looking less competitive for winning future expansions.

A Baltimore Sun editorialist bemoans the prospect of exploring for more energy near the state:

Virginia officials have foolishly exposed themselves to this potential exploitation by approving legislation that would allow exploration for natural gas, signaling a willingness to ease a 25-year ban on oil and gas drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Gov. Tim Kaine notes that the state has not yet approved gas production or even exploration for oil. But once down that road, the last few steps get easier – especially after bringing exploration crews into the rural communities of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and Tidewater country, changing them forever with new roads and urban services.

Fortunately, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County is available to resolve all this bemoaning.

P.S. The Jay Hancock column cited first in this post is quite good. We think he blames deregulation too much for the difficulties, but he has certainly identified a major, self-inflicted problem dragging down Maryland’s economy. Not the ONLY problem, mind you, but a big one.