O’Malley’s Trash Politics
In case you haven’t noticed, former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) is still running for President. Despite his poor showing in the polls, his liberal environmental allies continue to press their advantage in opposing energy projects in Maryland.
Nearly six years ago, former Gov. O’Malley’s administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the Fairfield Renewable Energy Power Plant, a 160-megawatt trash incinerator, on Curtis Bay south of Baltimore. Energy Answers International, the operator and responsible party for the $1 billion dollar construction of the power plant received approval to proceed on August 6, 2010.
On October 18, 2010, at the power plant’s ceremonial kickoff event Gov. O’Malley (D) said that “Maryland’s economy is an innovation economy,” and the plant “ fits directly into this innovation economy and where we’re going in this fight for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future more jobs.”
Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) said, “I’m proud, very proud, to have this project in Baltimore City”. It was a “truly a great day in Baltimore” and the project would provide “jobs for skilled union workers” and serve as “a national model for green, renewable energy”.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe stated, “projects like this show the right thing to do for the environment is also the right thing to do for the economy. We don’t have to choose between two.”
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2) said that “this is the way that we need to do things in our community, in our country”.
Fast forward to October 31, 2013, and the O’Malley administration decided to stop the construction of the incinerator after the Energy Answers International invested millions in the construction. The project was delayed due to evolving environmental requirements to lower emissions, despite the fact that initially the EPA was satisfied with the project. Currently, the company is in limbo as they had to re-apply for new permits to continue construction.
What changed? Now former Governor Martin O’Malley (D) is running for President and Maryland has a new Republican Governor, Larry Hogan (R) that is a target for radical environmental groups. As a result of O’Malley ‘s and U.S. EPA decision to approved the incinerator, Gov. Hogan came under attack for the project by various environmental groups.
As the Maryland Democratic party and former Gov. O’Malley changed political strategies, embracing the climate change agenda in hopes of energizing the younger crowd, they have become even more hypocritical. Liberal Montgomery County with over 1 million people has a large incinerator plant that burns municipal garbage and waste. The Montgomery County Resource Recovery Facility was built in 1995 and is owned by the by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, a state-owned corporation in the county that has been governed by the Democrats for decades. Residents are also required to pay an additional tax for the privilege. The “solid waste charge costs about $205 per townhome on average as a part of property taxes.
In 1998, then County Council President Leggett (D), now County Executive, justified the burning of trash as a renewable energy and stated, “[w]e were able to look at what was happening around the country, and we realized the trash market was volatile”. The incinerator was placed in the rural part of the county, far from the prying eyes of the urban environmental groups.
No one opposes common sense environmental review of energy projects. But important projects should not be held hostage to liberal politicians’ hunger for higher office.