Victory in the Fight for Clean Air in Baltimore
Following escalation of protests, Maryland Department of Environment denies Air Quality Permits for Trash Incinerator
Baltimore, MD - Today, Margaret Flowers, MD, candidate for US Senate seeking the Green Party nomination in Maryland, applauded a decision by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to deny the air quality permits for the construction of the largest trash incinerator in the nation in Curtis Bay, a community in Southwest Baltimore. The permit was sought by New York-based Energy Answers International.
For the past 4 years, residents of Curtis Bay, led by students at Benjamin Franklin High School and United Workers who together formed a group called ‘Free Your Voice’, have fought to stop construction of the incinerator, which would be located less than a mile from the high school. Over the past year, they have escalated their tactics including occupying the MDE’s Baltimore office and overwhelming the CEO of Energy Answers International with factual information at a recent community meeting.
"This is a tremendous victory for advocates with Free Your Voice and the people of South Baltimore who have organized to stop this incinerator from going forward. Maryland already has terrible air quality, receiving an ‘F’ from the American Lung Association in and around Baltimore. This incinerator would have greatly increased air pollution and the resultant cancer, cardiorespiratory disease and asthma in Curtis Bay,” said Dr. Flowers. “Although the O’Malley administration allowed the incinerator to be classified as clean renewable energy, the community saw through that and won through persistence and having the truth on their side.”
Baltimore District 10 City Council candidate Amanda Maminski, who is seeking nomination by the Baltimore Green Party, lives in Curtis Bay and organizes with Free Your Voice. She was one of the community members who left the CEO of Energy Answers International speechless at the recent meeting. She studied their 465-page certificate of need request to the Maryland Public Service Commission. It was clear at the meeting that he had not.
Maminski explains, “By revoking the Air Quality Control permits that expired in 2013, the MDE is upholding our community’s basic human right to clean air and enforcing the terms of their own agreements.” She added that there is still more to do to stop the construction permit for the project. And she has developed an alternative proposal for the land where the incinerator would be built that includes a solar farm and job training on how to build and maintain it so that community members could be hired.
It is the combination of direct action such as the resistance against this incinerator and the development of plans that both move us towards the 21st century clean energy future we require and are based on the needs and desires of the community that set Green Party candidates apart from Democrats and Republicans.