Burning trash means jobs, energy for Maryland

May 17, 2011

Much to my dismay and disappointment, I have been informed that Gov. Martin O'Malley is hesitant to sign legislation reclassifying waste-to-energy incinerators as a preferred form of renewable energy in Maryland.

Energy Answers International, the firm that is developing such a power plant in Fairfield, has "answered the bell" for necessary permits and financing to move forward with construction. The facility will burn recycled pellets, consisting of Maryland garbage, not coal or foreign oil. It will also utilize waste water, now headed into the Chesapeake Bay, from a treatment plant nearby to cool the incinerator.

By design, the plant will use "state of the art" technology which exceeds all federally mandated emission requirements. The construction phase will also provide up to 1,100 jobs. What a win-win project for the environment in Fairfield and for those seeking employment in construction.

At stake are livelihoods for 1,100 families in the Baltimore area in this period of high unemployment. These jobs not only allow men and women to provide for their families but to pay taxes, make mortgage payments and spend at local businesses. It also takes hundreds off the unemployment rolls.

I just can't fathom Mr. O'Malley rejecting this opportunity for 1,100 local construction jobs and clean energy that would lessen the need to burn coal or foreign oil. The unemployment rate is approximately 30 percent the construction field.

Maybe the governor's offshore windmills, made in China, are more important to him. But we need jobs now, not in five years or God knows how many more. I fear the governor's priorities are out of order and his lack of action on this project totally unacceptable.

As for the environmentalists who have come out against this project, I wonder how they would feel if the Maryland garbage, now being shipped to out of state landfills, was dumped in their backyards? I am an unemployed, longtime Democrat who supported Mr. O'Malley. If he refuses to sign the bill into law, I will have a "Republican for Governor" sign in my front yard come next election. That is if I still have a home by then.

Kelley McAllister

The writer is a member of Baltimore Steamfitters Local #486.

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