Across the nation, our landfills are filling up with debris and junk. Isn’t there something productive we could be doing with all that unwanted trash? That’s what Energy Answers plans to do. Baltimore, Maryland is an innovative city with an innovative economy, and in 2010, Energy Answers proposed a new waste to energy plant called the Fairfield Renewable Energy Project. The plant serves as a green model for renewable energy that can be used across the nation.

The waste to energy plant was proposed in 2010, with original plans to begin construction in December 2010 and to complete construction in December 2013. Now the plant is not expected to be completed until the spring of 2016. Construction delays, financing difficulties, and permit violations (which created thousands of dollars in fines) have pushed back the building and launch of the new power plant. The new plant is controversial, and those who oppose it don’t think the construction delays are a bad thing.

A group of students from Benjamin Franklin High School is opposing the plant, calling it “fundamentally unjust.” They have gotten a lot of attention by arguing the city already has enough air pollution without the smokestacks that will come with the new power plant, emitting large amounts of mercury and lead.

Those students have a valid point. Although “waste-to-energy” sounds like an obvious good idea, there are always trade-offs. In this case, they are exchanging land pollution for air pollution. The students want to stop industrialization of the neighborhoods surrounding South Baltimore because those zip codes are among the most polluted in the state and even in the country. Benjamin Franklin High School, along with 22 other businesses, signed a contract to purchase energy from the plant, something the students hope will be reversed with the delay of the plant’s construction.

The Maryland Department of Environment will evaluate the plant’s compliance with the Clean Air Act. The department also seems concerned with sustainability. Jay Apperson, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Environment, says the goal is “to create a sustainable enterprise that is much better than landfilling, that will have economic benefits as well and environmental benefits.”

Patrick Mahoney, president of Energy Answers International, says he and the rest of the company consider the plant a “resource recovery facility” and not an incinerator. Each day, the plant will produce enough energy to supply electricity to 130,000+ homes. Trucks will deliver 5,000 tons of refuse-derived fuel for incineration to generate 160 megawatts (MW) of energy. The plant will create hundreds of jobs when it is set into operation, giving the area’s economy a healthy boost.

Although the construction of the Fairfield plant is controversial, it is clear that the Baltimore residents on opposing sides have a similar goal. They are all interested in sustainable energy and a greener and cleaner environment. What do you think about the plant? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Here at Budget Dumpster, we try to be as green as possible. We encourage recycling and only dump into certified landfills following EPA guidelines. Contact us for more information or if you are interested in renting one of our greener dumpsters.

Story from City Post and The Baltimore Sun