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.