Steelworker applauds O'Malley for signing waste to energy bill

Last week Gov. Martin O'Malley proved that you can support job creation while protecting our natural resources. By signing Senate Bill 690, which puts waste-to-energy on par with landfills, O'Malley proved he cares about jobs and the environment.

Before legislation, both in and out-of-state landfills capturing methane qualified for Tier 1 credits, which created low paying jobs and environmental issues for the next generation. Senate Bill 690 simply expands Maryland's options for meeting its aggressive renewable energy standard and puts waste to energy on par with landfill gas, biomass and chicken waste in the state's renewable energy standard. This clean technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create more renewable energy and allow investment to flow into the state.

US companies right now are planning to invest billions of dollars in the United Kingdom to build waste to energy facilities because they have put the proper renewable and landfill policies in place. Right here in Baltimore, Energy Answers is getting ready to invest nearly a billion dollars of private financing into our community to build a power plant fueled with processed waste and clean up a "brownfield" site that has sat dormant for years. This investment is going to create 400-plus local union construction jobs per year during the three year construction period with 1,300 craftsman jobs at peak, as well as creating approximately 200 new permanent union operating jobs at the facility. This is going to provide a huge boost to the working men and women and an environmental benefit to the city. Plus, this plant is setting new emissions standards for this type of facility.

Our waste is a resource that will help put Maryland back to work, create renewable energy and reduce landfills. Governor O'Malley's leadership will undoubtedly create high paying jobs and help end dependence on landfills. He supports working men and women and that's why we support him.

James Strong, Baltimore

The writer is a sub-district director of the United Steelworkers.