Energy is at the forefront of the minds of many Americans today. Many are nervous about the high price of oil — both at the pump and geopolitically — as well as concerned about the viability of nuclear power. In this uncertain climate, the Maryland legislature is taking the extraordinarily prudent step of moving legislation that will create market opportunities for facilities that make energy from waste. Senate Bill 690 (which has passed the Senate 47-0) and House Bill 1121 (which has unanimously passed the Public Utilities Subcommittee) would establish waste-to-energy facilities as a Tier 1 renewable energy resource under the state renewable portfolio standard. This common sense legislation makes use of an abundant homegrown fuel source — trash — and reduces dependence on fossil fuels.
This legislation would put Maryland on the same path as many countries in Europe, which are world leaders in waste management with high recycling rates and high utilization of waste-to-energy. The Kyoto Protocol recognizes waste-to-energy as a tool to reduce greenhouse gases, and Europeans use it to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint. Progressive European policies have also successfully attracted investment capital from the United States. Investors follow policies that create attractive markets for technology. If Maryland enacts SB690/HB1121, it will attract investment in Maryland, which will create many high paying jobs for decades to come.
Energy is too scarce, waste is too abundant, and jobs are too precious to let this opportunity pass us by.
Ted Michaels, Washington D. C.
The writer is president of the Energy Recovery Council.