Remarks as prepared
Delivered on Wednesday, March 29th, 2023
Good morning, and welcome to Maryland! I want to thank the Business Network for Offshore Wind for bringing this forum to Baltimore, and I want to thank all of you for being here.
Now, I know when you come to these conferences, local mayors and governors ALWAYS show up to thank you – and ask you to come shop and spend money.
And I hope you do that!
But more than that, I want to thank you for being the risk takers;
For being the ones who don't READ about history, but MAKE it;
For being the ones who realize that fortune does, in fact, favor the bold.
And I want you to know that you are in good company!
I stand here as maybe the most improbable governor you will ever meet.
I didn't come from a political family: I was raised by an immigrant single mom who didn't get her first job that gave her benefits until I was 14 years old.
I ran for governor against people who had been statewide elected officials – and career bureaucrats – and I was neither of those things. In fact, before running for governor, I had never run for office! When I was first polling, I was polling at 1%!
But I believe that in order to change the trajectory of something, you must think differently – and move aggressively. I learned that lesson when I ran a small business right here in Baltimore. And that lesson has served me well in public life.
As a former business owner, I know about the fears you may have: about the risks – the hard choices.
You want predictability. You want transparency. You want partnership. And you want the chance to solve a big problem.
You will find all of this in Maryland.
We are here because the stakes of climate change couldn't be higher: for our state – for our country – for our word.
What we do in this moment, along the mid-Atlantic – across the nation – around the globe – will set the trajectory not just of any one state or one business – but of our entire planet.
We need to work together and build out offshore wind: in every community – on every continent.
And I want Maryland to be the headquarters of that movement: a headquarters for manufacturing – a headquarters for logistics – a headquarters for progress.
It's why we are so excited to host you in the heart and soul of our great state: Baltimore City.
Baltimore is famous around the world for its universities – its museums – its companies. But a hundred years ago, Baltimore was known for something else: it was known for steel.
The steel we made in Baltimore helped win two world wars.
The steel we made in Baltimore helped stand up the tallest buildings in the world.
The steel we made in Baltimore created tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in wealth.
But at the end of the 20th century, demand for steel dropped off.
Workers lost their jobs. The steel mill shut down.
But today, if you go to the site of the old steel mill, you will find opportunity again. You will find growth again. You will find innovation again!
Because today, Maryland is on track to become the offshore wind capital of America – and that work is happening in Baltimore!
U.S. Wind has partnered with Tradepoint Atlantic to lease nearly 100 acres of waterfront space where the old steel mill once stood – and right now, they're building the best offshore wind yard in the country: called Sparrows Point Steel.
Just next door, the energy company Orsted is building a wind staging center to build steel foundations of their own. And the materials for those foundations will come – in part – from a factory on Maryland's eastern shore, off the Chesapeake Bay.
You see: a new, exciting chapter in the story of our state is underway right now.
Maryland STEEL led the American economy in the 20th century. I want Maryland WIND to lead the American economy in the 21st century.
Our state was made for this moment.
Maryland has over 3,000 miles of shoreline. The people of our state grow up on the water: boating and swimming and crabbing and fishing – and many go on to work in the water: at the Port of Baltimore or on the Chesapeake Bay.
And our water doesn't just nurture crabs and oysters: it nurtures wind: wind that can power millions of homes.
But of all our strengths, Maryland's greatest asset is our people. We are one of the most diverse, one of the most well-trained, one of the most hard-working states in the nation.
Our HBCUs, our community colleges, our universities are filled with young, talented Marylanders looking for jobs. And we're already helping them get to work! Last year, Maryland won a $23 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to build out our offshore wind workforce.
That money will help colleges, unions, nonprofits, and apprenticeship programs train nearly 4,500 Marylanders to work in offshore wind.
So people might ask: with all those assets, why isn't Maryland already the global leader in offshore wind? We have the space – we have the relationships – we have the workforce…?
Well, it's because we haven't taken full advantage of our blessings. We are asset rich, but strategy poor. My predecessor took a middle path: make some investments in offshore wind, but not enough to get us where we need to be.
Well it's been a very long time since I've been comfortable being a “C" student! I don't want Maryland to “get by" with passing grades – I want us to be top of our class!
That is why as governor, I am proud to announce that our state will be setting a new, bold goal for offshore wind.
Once the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approves new lease areas for our state, Maryland will aim to produce 8.5 gigawatts of power through offshore wind. That is enough energy to power nearly 3 million homes!
Hitting this target is going to keep Maryland's economy competitive – it's going to move our state toward energy independence – and it's going to help us meet our goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035.
This target is ambitious, but achievable. Maryland is on course to produce around 2.1 gigawatts of offshore wind power and create 15,000 jobs through partnerships with U.S. Wind and Orsted.
But it isn't enough. We need to be bold.
It's why my Department of Commerce has created a dedicated position within our administration focused on clean energy;
It's why I am ordering the Maryland Energy Administration to focus on delivering more grants to companies that form key links along the offshore wind supply chain: from parts – to turbines – to blades – to pilings – to cables;
And it's why I want our state to invest in job programs that will train Marylanders to lead this moment – and access work, wages, and wealth in the process.
When we invest in offshore wind projects, we don't just fight climate change: we build pathways to prosperity. We change lives. We lift everyone.
And I want to tell you about one of the lives we're changing right now.
Alex is a Marylander, born and raised in Baltimore. He served time in our prison system – and after release, he wanted to get back on his feet and into the workforce.
But he found it hard to find gainful employment, because our society has this dangerous tendency to turn every sentence into a life sentence – because we don't focus enough on re-entry – and ending that revolving door into the criminal justice system.
But Alex got a chance to turn things around. He enrolled in a program at the Jane Addams Resource Corporation – which joined forces with the Maryland government a few years ago to train formerly incarcerated folks to work in offshore wind.
The program has already trained nearly 200 people in welding and related skills – and Alex is one of them. He got trained – and got a job with Strum Contracting: a Black-owned business in Baltimore working in offshore wind.
Today, Alex earns a stable wage, has bought his first car, and is saving up to buy a home.
The offshore wind industry helped Alex bridge the gap between a prison sentence and a paycheck.
We need to invest in more stories like these – in more lives like these.
It's why I am deeply SERIOUS when I say that Maryland will lead in offshore wind –
I am SERIOUS when I say that we have the real estate, the brain power, the assets, and the agenda to get it done –
And I am SERIOUS when I say WE want to work with YOU to reach our potential.
I look around and I see a room full of risk-takers – of dreamers – of innovators.
You aren't just looking to the future, you are INVENTING the future: leading an industry that didn't exist a few years ago – leading an industry that is just beginning to emerge.
And I want you to know that in Maryland, we are dreaming just as big as you are.
When the world needed steel, Maryland stepped up to lead.
Today, the world needs offshore wind power. And Maryland will lead again.
But we can only get there with your help.
Together, we can lead –
Together, we can win –
Together, we can harness the wind and build a better world.