Burning trash isn't clean energy

I was shocked to read a letter in The Sun claiming that waste incineration is clean renewable energy (“Waste incineration is clean energy,” Sept. 26). My own experience as a gardener tells me that’s not true. That’s why I joined forces last week to protest about the BRESCO Baltimore plant. The toxic pollution that is filtered in the air gives off pollutants that affect gardens surrounding the plant. These pollutants can be ingested by the community which can lead to all kinds of cancer and respiratory problems.

We need to shut down BRESCO and find other alternatives to lead to zero waste in our community. Clean energy and creating green jobs for our community is the answer. By definition, renewable energy must come from a sustainable source like sun or wind. Burning trash for energy is dependent upon a constant, unsustainable trash stream. Furthermore, burning trash creates enormous amounts of toxic pollution and greenhouse gases. In fact, BRESCO produces roughly twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as Maryland’s coal plants per unit of energy produce.

Despite this reality, the incineration industry has a lot of reasons to greenwash itself as clean and renewable. In 2011, the state of Maryland gave in to industry lobbyists and declared trash incineration a “Tier 1” source of renewable energy, setting them up to receive the same subsidies as wind and solar power. In the six years since, BRESCO has received over $10 million in state subsidies-money that should have gone to expand truly renewable energy, not prop up an aging polluter.

Incinerator companies may bring in outsiders and PR people to push their green washing agenda and divert taxpayers’ money to their pockets, but Baltimore City should not be fooled. It’s time to envision a Baltimore powered by truly renewable energy and zero waste programs, not trash incineration.

Rodette Jones, Baltimore

The writer is the Filbert Street Garden manager.

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