- Maryland Department of the Environment officials have announced the permit allowing New York-based Energy Answers International to build a controversial trash-to-energy plant in Baltimore is no longer valid. The permit became void after a site-construction hiatus in October 2013.
- The facility — which would have cost $1 billion — was first pitched in 2009, with the permit approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission in 2010. It was projected to be the largest trash burning incinerator in the nation, according to the Environmental Integrity Project.
- The facility fostered extreme opposition in the past year, with opponents protesting the project due to the belief it would create hazardous emissions that would put local residents at risk. Energy Answers International countered these beliefs in December, stating the facility would meet or surpass air quality requirements.
This proposed trash-to-energy facility in Baltimore has been a point of contention ever since the plans started developing. Protests in December even led to seven arrests, as opponents refused to leave the Maryland Department of Environment headquarters.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Department of Environment officials considered the protests when deciding if construction of the facility could continue, but ultimately made a decision based on "the specific question of whether the requirement for continuous construction has been satisfied," which it had not.
"This is a great decision for clean air and for environmental justice," said Leah Kelly, Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, in a press statement. "This plant would have been a large source of toxic air pollution in an area that already has a high air pollution burden. MDE is charged with enforcing the letter of the law, and it is had done so with this decision."
Local resident Destiny Watford, who led the campaigns against the incinerator, echoed these thoughts. "Community members have been working to bring truly green community driven positive alternatives like solar, recycling, and composting that provides good jobs for residents, and doesn't put our lives at risk. The incinerator was holding us back from that positive vision," she said, as reported in a press statement.
Energy Answers did not respond to the Baltimore Sun for comment, however back in December, the company's president and CEO Patrick Mahoney discredited the opponents allegations and protests, stating, "Their facts are not accurate ... I just don't understand the objective of the protest."
It is unclear if the permit will be amended or revoked. Waste Dive will continue to update this story as it develops.