In a move aimed at improving Maryland's potential role in America's growing coal export program, Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes has created an Export Coal Task Force.
The task force, with members from both public and private sectors, is charged with developing policies and programs to coordinate and guide the development of the port of Baltimore to meet the needs of a growing worldwide demand for export coal, created by skyrocketing oil prices.
"Timely, aggressive action by the public and private sectors will enable the port of Baltimore to capitalize upon its traditional geographical advantage and capture a major share of the expanding export coal market," Hughes said in creating the task force.
It has been told to study the adequacy of rail facilities connecting coal production areas with the Baltimore port, storage and pier facilities, dredging needed for increased harbor and channel depth, and public and private means of financing future development.
Hans F. Mayer, deputy secretary of Maryland's Department of Economic and Community Development, was named chairman of the task force; George Shropshire, vice chairman of the Maryland Coal Producers Association, was named vice chairman.
Maryland and Baltimore have already taken a number of steps to position the port as a major coal export center, among them the commitment of $145 million of industrial review bonds for new or expanded export coal facilities and the pledge of the state of Maryland to dredge the Baltimore Harbor Channel to 50 feet.