April 6, 2018
Maryland Senate Voted Today to Phase Out Waste Incineration from Renewable Energy Portfolio
Vote Represents A Historic First for Recognizing the Significant Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Incineration.
Annapolis — The Maryland Senate voted today to pass legislation related to Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that eliminates a major financial incentive for polluting waste incinerators. Senate Bill 282, sponsored by Finance Committee Chair Mac Middleton (D-Charles County), extends incentives for the RPS’s “Tier 2” energy sources (currently large hydroelectric power plants) for 2 years (i.e., Tier 2 now sunsets in 2018; the legislation provides for a two-year extension, through 2020). During debate on the legislation yesterday, thirty-three of the body’s 47 senators supported an amendment by Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick County) that would remove waste incineration from its current status as a Tier 1 energy source, meaning waste incinerators could no longer sell renewable energy credits (RECs) to Maryland electricity suppliers. The final bill passed the body today by a vote of 37-8.
The legislation now goes to the House of Delegates, which has until Monday at midnight to pass the legislation and send it to Gov. Hogan’s desk.
Maryland’s RPS was enacted in 2004 to facilitate a gradual transition to renewable sources of energy. It operates on a two-tiered system with carve-outs for solar energy and offshore wind energy and corresponding renewable energy credits (RECs) for each tier. Electric companies (utilities) and other electricity suppliers must submit RECs equal to a percentage specified in statute each year or else pay a penalty equivalent to their shortfall. Tier 1 sources include wind, geothermal, solar, and several others.
“Burning trash has no business being on the same level as wind and solar,” said David Smedick, Public Policy Director for the Maryland Sierra Club. “With this vote, a bipartisan group of forward-thinking legislators have declared that we need our electricity generated from truly clean and renewable sources. It’s time for the House of Delegates to follow suit and pass this bill.”
“The Maryland Climate Coalition applauds this vote as a critical step forward for climate action,” said Brooke Harper, Policy Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Burning trash does not eliminate it. Rather, it creates a toxic ash that still needs to be disposed of – and it adds pollution to the air. We urge the House of Delegates to pass Senate Bill 282 unamended.”
“We applaud the action of the Maryland Senate to remove incineration from the renewable energy portfolio,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network. “This is an important step towards protecting the health of populations living in the footprint of trash incineration. For far too long, fence-line communities have faced a toxic soup produced in their own backyards, without their consent, that causes or contributes to life limiting respiratory health diseases. We now look to the House to continue to support legislation that puts people over profits. ”
The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environment, faith, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland.