Support Baltimore's "Ban the Burn" Act!
WHEREAS, Baltimore suffers from poor air quality, leading to health problems including asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, COPD, and cancer; and

WHEREAS, Baltimore City's childhood asthma rate is twice the national average, impacting 1 in 5 children; and

WHEREAS, the largest single source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) air pollution in the city, contributing to asthma attacks, is the Wheelabrator Baltimore (BRESCO) trash incinerator, the largest trash incinerator in Maryland, which is responsible for 58% of the NOx pollution from Baltimore industry, equivalent to half of the city's cars or half of the city’s trucks; and

WHEREAS, Black residents of Baltimore experience the worse impacts from asthma, cancer, stroke, and premature deaths from COVID-19 -- all aggravated by Wheelabrator's pollution -- and the community most impacted by Wheelabrator's presence fits a sad national trend of environmental racism; and

WHEREAS, since 2017, Baltimore City Council has unanimously adopted the Baltimore Clean Air Act, and seven resolutions calling for city action to reduce and eliminate incinerator pollution, to move toward Zero Waste, and for the city to aggressively defend the Baltimore Clean Air Act; and

WHEREAS, Mayor Jack Young, City Solicitor Dana Moore, and the Department of Public Works seem inclined to continue burning the city's trash beyond the current contract which expires at the end of 2021; and

WHEREAS, any new contract with Wheelabrator would tie the hands of the new mayor and city council, and lock the city into more years of pollution from an aging incinerator that will still be the city's #1 air polluter even if they were to meet the requirements of the Baltimore Clean Air Act; and

WHEREAS, settling the Baltimore Clean Air Act appeal would leave in place a court ruling that strips away the right of all local governments in Maryland to adopt clean air laws; and

WHEREAS, settling the appeal also means that Baltimore taxpayers must foot the bill of up to $95 million in air pollution controls at Wheelabrator, plus other repair costs as this end-of-life incinerator breaks down over the term of any new contract, potentially doubling or tripling the city's waste disposal costs; and

WHEREAS, cutting a deal with Wheelabrator in order to drop the Baltimore Clean Air Act appeal is a triple win for Wheelabrator and a loss for the city, as local clean air laws will be illegal, Wheelabrator will continue to operate, and will profit from city taxpayers who will have to pay for long overdue pollution controls while also suffering the economic consequences of the health impacts from breathing Wheelabrator's pollution; and

WHEREAS, incinerators are unnecessary and are the most expensive and polluting way to manage waste or to make energy, and

WHEREAS, the city's publicly-owned landfill is far less of a public health danger and has been pursuing permits for an uncontested expansion for over six years -- an expansion necessary to take more of Wheelabrator's incinerator ash; and

WHEREAS, the alternative to incineration already exists as this landfill could take unburned trash while no longer having to take ash from out-of-city trash burned at Wheelabrator; and

WHEREAS, less costly Zero Waste solutions can more than double the life of the landfill by slowing down the city's waste generation, with two solutions (Save as You Throw, and curbside composting collection) able to quickly cut waste generation by about 60%, and further reductions possible by mandating deconstruction, and adopting other Zero Waste solutions; and

WHEREAS, Zero Waste solutions will produce 5-10 times as many jobs, reduce air pollution, and save and improve lives by reducing asthma, cancer, heart attacks, and premature deaths from COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, some experimental and polluting incineration schemes that have sought to locate in Baltimore insist that they're not incinerators, including waste-to-fuel facilities such as the one that would have fed processed trash to burn at the Energy Answers incinerator -- proposed for Curtis Bay and defeated in 2016 -- which sought to build within one mile of a school (illegal by state law) by claiming that they're a power plant, not an incinerator;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the undersigned organizations urge Baltimore City Council to adopt the "Ban the Burn at Every Turn" Act barring city contracts with waste incinerators or waste-to-fuel facilities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the undersigned organizations urge the Baltimore City Board of Estimates not to approve any new contract to continue the use of the Wheelabrator Baltimore trash incinerator, or to continue the burning of the city's waste and recyclables in any form.
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