UPDATE April 10, 2018: The 2018 legislative session in Maryland ended Tuesday, April 9. This bill passed in the Senate, but has not moved forward in the House of Delegates.
- The Maryland State Senate voted 36-8 April 6 in approval of a bill that would remove a "green energy" label from the Wheelabrator Baltimore waste-to-energy facility and similar operations in the state, as reported by The Baltimore Sun.
- Currently, WTE facilities in Maryland are given subsidies which are accounted for in electricity rates for customers. That program began in 2004 and payouts totaled $135 million in 2016.
- Del. Shane Robinson called the bill's chances of passing in the Maryland House of Delegates a "long shot," as the state's legislative session ends this week. The bill would have to move out of committee before making it to a full vote among the delegates.
Maryland's legislative session doesn't last all year, so it isn't uncommon for a large volume of work to cross lawmakers' desks as sine die approaches in mid-April. Because of the time crunch (which is pitting a majority-Democrat legislature against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan), this bill may not been seen as a priority in the divided legislature.
Even if the bill does not reach Hogan's desk this year, similar legislation could find popular support in years to come. Sen. Michael Hough, a Republican who introduced the amendment, said it was likely the bill could pass in the future because of its widespread support in the Senate. However, Senate President Mike Miller, widely seen as a powerful and influential lawmaker in the state, supports classifying WTE as green energy.
The Wheelabrator Baltimore facility has had a troubled history. The decades-old facility has come under increasing pressure in the city over environmental and economic concerns. The facility has been called Baltimore's single-biggest source of air pollution, and has been a popular targets for community activists. Wheelabrator did not respond to a request for comment in time for Waste Dive's publishing deadline.
Baltimore has adopted a "zero waste" plan, and in his executive order that came when he canceled former Gov. Matin O'Malley's statewide "zero waste plan," Hogan did call for further investigation into WTE. However, neither Hogan the state government nor Baltimore City officials have taken a formal stance on WTE, and it is therefore unclear whether either level of government will consider WTE in waste diversion plans.