- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The House of Delegates has approved a bill banning construction of liquefied natural gas and oil facilities in environmentally sensitive coastal areas.

Those areas would include the former Bethlehem Steel shipyard at Sparrows Point, near Baltimore, where AES Corp. has been planning a liquefied natural gas terminal.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.

AES has gone to federal court to challenge a similar ban approved by the Baltimore County Council.

• Maryland sidesteps Electoral College

Maryland’s Senate voted yesterday to sidestep the Electoral College in presidential elections.

The bill awards Maryland’s 10 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

The Senate approved it by a 29-17 vote.

The idea is being considered across the country as a way to pull the teeth out of the Electoral College and avoid a scenario where a candidate wins the most votes nationwide but loses the election, as Democrat Al Gore did in 2000.

The Arkansas House approved a similar idea last week.

Maryland’s plan would take effect only if enough states representing a majority of the nation’s 538 electoral votes adopt it. That provision makes it unlikely the popular-vote plan would be in effect for next year’s presidential election.

• PSC examines electric cost plan

The new chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, Steven Larsen, said commissioners will be looking at helping Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. customers absorb the blow from this summer’s expected rate increase.

BGE’s proposed 50 percent rate increase is scheduled to take effect June 1. Mr. Larsen says the commission will look at the possibility of a rate-deferral plan.

Speaking after his swearing-in ceremony yesterday, Mr. Larsen also said he is committed to re-examining electricity regulation.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, appointed Mr. Larsen after pressuring the former chairman, Kenneth Schisler, to resign.

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