How Clean is Waste-to-Energy Incineration? Updated 3-16-11

Posted on March 8, 2011. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

And the answer is…not as clean is its proponents would like you think. Today, SB 690 is being heard in the Maryland General Assembly. This bill proposes that Waste-to-Energy (WTE) be considered a Tier 1 Renewable Resource in the State of Maryland. Currently wind, solar, qualifying biomass, small hydro, certain methane and a few other resources are considered Tier 1 resources. WTE is a Tier 2 resource along with large scale hydro.

According to the fiscal note on SB 690, though WTE electricity has a favorable emissions profile compared to oil and gas fueled power plants, 

 “MSW [Municipal Solid Waste] incinerators are significant contributors to the environmental deposition of mercury dioxin, furan, and other toxic materials and organic compounds.”

Changing WTE from Tier 2 to Tier 1 will not only incentivize WTE incineration, but will also increase the supply of Tier 1 RECs, thus bringing down the value. A lower Tier 1 REC value will decrease the payback for Tier 1 projects (like the proposed Maryland offshore wind project) and will also make it economically viable for utilities to pay the Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP) instead of purchasing RECs.

Check out Clean Currents testimony opposing SB 690 here: SB 690 WTE Testimony Clean Currents 

Update March 16, 2011 : SB 690 has passed the Senate. Its crossfile in the House, HB 1121 is currently being discussed. Contact your delegate TODAY to tell them you oppose HB 1121! Lookup your delegate here.

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