Free Your Voice, United Workers, and allies are confronting and defeating Energy Answers — a New York-based company with a website that claims “we are all environmentalists.” Hidden behind talk of clean energy, the company is actually in the dirty business of burning trash. The trash burning incinerator proposed for Curtis Bay would have been permitted to emit 240 pounds of mercury and 1,000 pounds of lead every year — in the city with the nation’s highest rate of air pollution related deaths. Studies have shown that burning trash emits even more climate pollution than burning coal, per unit of energy.
“Decades ago, when the tide starting turning against incineration in the U.S, and coal and oil were getting a bad rap, trash burning companies rebranded themselves as “waste-to-energy,” claiming that they can renewably produce energy from waste. But burning trash is a climate disaster, emitting high levels of greenhouse gases alongside toxic pollution,” explained Ahmina Maxey of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). “All across the country, companies like Energy Answers are spewing toxic pollution into communities under the guise of producing clean energy. Free Your Voice blew the whistle on this lie, and their story highlights the need to end renewable energy classification for trash incineration in state and national policies.”
In the United States state and national waste and climate policies like the Clean Power Plan and the Non-Hazardous Secondary Material Rule classify trash burning as renewable energy renewable energy. In doing so, they allow Energy Answers and other trash burning companies to qualify for climate subsidies, meant for clean energy like wind and solar power. These subsidies offset the high costs of building an incinerator, present an enormous challenge to communities like Curtis Bay, and keep polluting facilities alive all over the country. As the Clean Power Plan describes, incinerators compete with zero waste initiatives like waste prevention, reuse, composting, and recycling.
Residents from South Baltimore and all across the state have been calling upon the Maryland Department of the Environment to enforce the law regarding the incinerator's expired permit for months. In response to silence from MDE - 200 residents showed up to follow through on petitions and letters. MDE's response was astonishing. They shut the doors, locked the gates and continued to stall. The events of Tuesday Dec 15th and the ongoing call for justice regarding the incinerator have received a lot of media attention.
Leaders, community members, students, parents and teachers are speaking out and joining in the call for Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of the Environment to enforce the law and pull Energy Answers' permit. We are working to develop positive alternatives that make better use of the 97 acre site being held hostage by the failed incinerator project. We are calling for a choice that is better for our health, our environment, our economy and the future of our planet.
Check out this powerful new video featuring students, business owners, faith leaders calling for community driven positive alternatives to the incinerator. After the video, sign our petition calling on Maryland Department of the Environment to enforce the law and support our push for Fair Development.
Like many communities, we find ourselves in a basic struggle for survival in which our health is sacrificed and the very air we breathe is made toxic by failed development. In such times we must come together to use our creativity and collective resources to find solutions to the crisis we face. Today, we are proud to share this powerful video calling for community control of the 80 acre site currently being held hostage by Energy Answers' plan to build the nations' largest trash burning incinerator less than a mile from schools in Curtis Bay.Read more
Free Your Voice leaders developed the Stop the Incinerator powerpoint to share information and analysis with an expanding group of people who wanted to engage in the effort. The presentation is an educational tool developed to expand our capacity and build power:
Free Your Voice students created the Human Rights Analysis of the Incinerator to look at the issue in terms of underlying human rights values. The analysis also pushed the group to consider alternatives based on human rights principles (click the image to view the analysis):
Free Your Voice created the Human Rights Problem Tree Analysis of the Incinerator to challenge ourselves to consider the root issues that are often hard to grasp:
Speech delivered to the Baltimore City School Board on May 27th 2014:
This map shows the current burden of pollution in Curtis Bay: existing pollution sources are marked in yellow, and sources that are in violation of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act are marked in red. The proposed incinerator site is marked with a star. Schools, gardens, rec centers, and fair development sites are marked in blue. Click the map below to learn more about each site and specific pollutants in Curtis Bay:
A timeline of the issue and our work to stop the incinerator:
Short video asking the question: "What is the true cost of the incinerator?"
Short video describing the key factors underlying our position that the incinerator is failed development
The City Paper recently published their “Best of Baltimore 2014″ edition. Free Your Voice took the prize for “Best Activism” in Baltimore. Cheers to the creativity and commitment of the students and community members of Curtis Bay and beyond in the fight for the human right to clean air and a healthy community!Read more