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Baltimore appeals federal ruling that invalidated law to reduce trash incinerator air pollution

Baltimore Clean Air Act advocates held "die in" Wednesday outside the BRESCO incinerator.

Baltimore has appealed a federal ruling that invalidated a city ordinance requiring waste incinerators to reduce their air pollution.

The Baltimore Clean Air Act, passed last year, would have required two large waste incinerators to dramatically reduce their output of harmful air pollutants starting in 2022, though both are currently in compliance with state and federal pollution limits.

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A federal judge ruled last month that the city didn’t have the authority to enact a law he said “second guesses” a robust system of state and federal environmental regulations.

The city on Wednesday filed a request for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reconsider that decision.

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Representatives for Wheelabrator Technologies, whose Southwest Baltimore facility processes household trash from across the region and produces steam and energy, and Curtis Bay Energy, which handles medical waste, have said the ordinance would have been impossible to meet and unfairly targets their businesses.

The Wheelabrator incinerator is the largest industrial source of many health-harming pollutants in Baltimore, though the company points out that vehicle emissions are a far greater detriment to air quality.

Activists, who held a “die-in” outside the incinerator on Wednesday calling on the city to file the appeal, are pushing for the city to stop incinerating its trash and instead move towards a “zero-waste" plan that relies on composting and reuse.

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