Source: Environmental Integrity ProjectWhy does Maryland INSIST upon operating these dirty-energy plants?
Waste-To-Energy Plant Diagram Source: ecomaineProposals for new or expanded waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerators, which burn trash to create electricity, have been popping up in Maryland. Reports from these facilities show that they pollute more per hour of energy produced than coal-fired power plants, emitting higher rates of lead, mercury, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.
WTE facilities combust trash (i.e. municipal solid waste) to generate electricity and produce steam to heat buildings. Maryland has recently reclassified WTE incinerators as Tier 1 renewables under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) despite the fact that incinerators do not harness renewable energy. Rather, they rely on a fixed waste stream, typically consisting of thousands of tons of trash a day. This classification undermines the goal of the RPS and makes Maryland’s RPS one of the most lenient in the country with respect to WTE incinerators.
Although no incinerators were constructed in the entire country between 1996 and 2007, Maryland currently has at least three projects – the new Energy Answers plant in Baltimore City, the proposed expansion of the Harford County Resource Recovery Facility, in Harford County, and the proposed Frederick County Incinerator in Frederick County – under development or already permitted for construction. In addition, Maryland already has two WTE incinerators in Baltimore City and Dickerson.
The EIP report recommends that Maryland should remove WTE incinerators from its RPS, invest further in recycling and source reduction programs, reconfigure its Clean Energy Production Tax Credit Program to better support and promote clean and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal energy, and increase its statewide pollution monitoring network to better understand new sources of pollution as well as trends in air quality.
Key EIP report findings include:
•The WTE incinerators in Maryland examined for the report emit more pollution per hour of energy produced than each of Maryland’s four largest coal-fired power plants.
•The WTE facilities produce ash in the combustion process that can be highly toxic and must be carefully tested to determine its toxicity and appropriate management.
•Incinerators are extremely expensive to construct, often costing hundreds of millions of dollars to build and requiring substantial loans and tax credits.
•Incineration provides fewer jobs and less economic benefits than other waste management options such as recycling and source reduction.
"Our State has an aggressive goal of generating 20% of our energy from Tier I renewable sources by 2022 and we intend to achieve that goal through as much in-state energy generation as possible. This will require a diverse fuel mix including onshore and offshore wind, solar, biomass including poultry litter, and now waste-to-energy if we are to realize our 20% goal." - Governor Martin O'MalleyWho cares whether or not the goal makes "sense". It's our GOAL, dammit! Don't argue with us, we're Democrats. We KNOW what's BEST for Maryland!
Way to pencil whip a problem, Governor. Just like you do with our State Educational Standards... just waive the requirements and/or lower the pass threshold!
10/18 Update - Harrisburg, PA learns the costly perils of waste to energy solutions.