We are breathing toxic air (“Wheelabrator needs to take responsibility for its contributions to bad air quality,” Feb. 6).
Fine particle air pollution from the Wheelabrator incinerator causes more than $55 million in adverse health effects annually, according to a study commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The study has compared living next to the Wheelabrator incinerator with living with a smoker. The Wheelabrator incinerator pumps nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other pollutants into the air on a daily basis, polluting the air all Baltimore residents and residents of the surrounding areas breathe.
Baltimore has twice the state average asthma rate and the highest rate of premature mortality due to air pollution. It is time that the largest polluter of Baltimore’s skies is held accountable for the harm it causes. At present, the Wheelabrator trash incinerator has received over $10 million in state subsidies as part of the state’s renewable portfolio standard. These are subsidies that are meant for clean energy sources. Trash incineration is not clean energy. Incineration produces more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than coal plants.
Ending state subsidies for trash incineration is a necessary step in ensuring that the health of Baltimore residents is no longer compromised by industry greed. The recently introduced Clean Energy Jobs Act is Maryland’s best vehicle to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in Maryland. Clean air is a human right and we shouldn’t be paying to have ours polluted.