Wrong on waste-to-energy details

Frederick News Post
Caroliine Eader
Harvey Alter continues to make it clear he’s not read any of the contracts pertaining to the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority’s proposed trash incinerator, which is to be located in Frederick (“Halloween Garbage”, May 12). And because of his lack of understanding he continues to write fiction. For example, it is not completely true when he writes the incinerator’s costs are to be covered by the tipping fee charged at the landfill. The tipping fees will be whatever the market can bear, and most likely the majority of the costs will be covered by the System Benefit Charge (SBC), which is a mandatory fee found on each and every property tax bill in the county.

Contract details bedevil incinerator opponents; county seeks opinions

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
The contract Frederick County has for a $400 million waste-to-energy incinerator does not say what the county believes it does, a variety of opponents keeps insisting. They are wrong, the Board of County Commissioners keeps responding: wrong about the lease agreement with the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, wrong about the $400 million debt responsibility, wrong about who has to deal with all the incinerator ash. Commissioners say they will verify their position before carrying out the contract with the authority to build the incinerator. The incinerator is supposed to take 1,500 tons of trash and burn it into electricity, which will generate profit for the authority, reduce the county’s electrical cost and cut back on landfill use. The contract assumes electrical rates, trash supply and landfill availability that are not realistic or good for the county, said Bruce Holstein, a retired government accountant.

Burnin’ Down The Waste

Trash Talk
Frederick Gorilla
Kelly Brook
“No Incinerator!” scream the signs. If you live or work in Frederick County, you’ve seen them in windows, on lawns and in cars for years. You can’t help but notice them. When you see them, maybe you cringe from the vision of soaring incinerator smokestacks spewing a black, smoky, noxious sludge of particulates, carcinogens, and climate-altering acids. Or maybe you roll your eyes imagining the “tree-hugging, peace-loving, Common Market-shopping” conservationist who might have posted it. If you’re like most people, though, you take a moment to acknowledge your concern for the environment, worry for a moment about how this will affect your taxes, wonder what the heck this incinerator debate is all about—and then forget about it and get on with your day.

County forging ahead with incinerator

Public hearing on the project set for today
Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
Frederick County is forging ahead with a waste-to-energy incinerator despite some hesitation from its partner in the project. Carroll County, which can opt out of the multimillion-dollar deal once final costs are determined next year, remains on the fence about whether it will stay on board. "We understand they are taking a look at the whole project," Michael Marschner, special projects manager for the county, said during a meeting Tuesday with the editorial board at The Frederick News-Post. "They need to make whatever decision is right for their county." Should Carroll County pass on the opportunity, it would leave Frederick County on the hook. "If you don't have another equity partner, I think the project stalls," Marschner said.

O’Malley to sign energy incentive legislation

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
Gov. Martin O'Malley will sign a bill recognizing waste-to-energy trash incineration as renewable energy generation, disregarding pleas from environmental groups to veto it. O'Malley, who has been considering the matter for weeks, sent out a lengthy statement Tuesday evening saying he intended to sign the bill. It is scheduled to be signed at a ceremony Thursday -- the last of such ceremonies held after the conclusion of the Maryland General Assembly session last month. The bill will provide financial incentives for those operating waste-to-energy plants that convert trash into electricity through incineration. Such a plant is planned in Frederick County, where the commissioners have committed to building a waste-to-energy plant and are in the planning stages. Frederick County residents opposed to that plant had written emails to O'Malley asking him to veto the bill, joining efforts from environmental and health organizations from around the state.

Public hearing on waste-to-energy brings crowd

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
Debt, dioxins, outdated technology and traffic were just some of the reasons Frederick County residents gave for opposing a proposed waste-to-energy plant during a public hearing before the County Commissioners on Tuesday night. Most of the speakers opposed the incinerator, which is projected to cost the county $325 million. Carroll County would assume an additional $200 million of the cost, if the two counties decide to proceed. The commissioners are considering whether to build the incinerator to handle 800 tons of trash Frederick County residents generate per day. Most of that trash is being sent to an out-of-state landfill. County officials said that is not a long-term solution. At least 60 people signed up to speak at the hearing, which will be continued at 7 p.m. Thursday. Three local developers said the incinerator would be a blight for residents and businesses who are within a few miles of the Md. 85 corridor. The site being considered is on Metropolitan Court, off English Muffin Way, across the Monocacy River from the Monocacy National Battlefield.

County shares details from Boulder trip

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
Frederick County Commissioners David Gray and Kai Hagen recounted their information-gathering trip to Boulder, Colo., last month in a PowerPoint presentation before the other three commissioners and the public Thursday. The commissioners were in Colorado to learn about Boulder's aggressive recycling programs. Recycling is a way of life in Boulder, where recycling containers outnumber trash containers in most public places and where the residential recycling rate approaches 50 percent. The commissioners hope to achieve a recycling goal of 60 percent within the next 15 years, but recognize the current system needs to change in order to do so. In 2006, the last year for which data is available, the county's recycling rate was 36 percent with a waste diversion rate of 39 percent.

Officials defend incinerator research

Director of Frederick County’s solid waste division says recent challenges to 2005 trash report are ‘disturbing
Sherry Greenfield
The man in charge of managing Frederick County’s solid waste is troubled that some residents question his recommendation to build an incinerator.Michael G. Marschner, director of Frederick County’s division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management, is steadfast in his support of a 2005 report from consultant R.W. Beck, which recommends that Frederick County build an incinerator, also known as a ‘‘waste-to-energy” facility because it burns trash to generate electricity, to deal with its mounting trash. "The Beck report will be three years old in October, and I find it a little disturbing when people want to challenge the conclusions,” Marschner said this week. "I guess if they came back today to change it, the only thing to change is the increase in diesel fuel, which has gone up in the last three years. In that respect, the three-year-old report should be updated.” Since 2000, Frederick County has shipped nearly all its trash by truck from the landfill on Reichs Ford Road in Frederick to landfills in Virginia. Marschner himself has come under attack by critics that accuse him and the Frederick Board of County Commissioners of making a rash decision to build an incinerator instead of looking at alternatives. Commissioner Kai J. Hagen (D), the lone board member publicly against an incinerator, said he believes Marschner and his staff are wrong in their recommendation. Hagen advocates that the county study alternatives. "Mike Marschner is a very capable and intelligent man, but he is wrong on this,” Hagen said in a recent interview. "... No way would a private company get this far or go all the way without much more scrutiny.”

A Boulder approach

Frederick News Post
Katherine Heerbrandt
If they can do it, why can't we? That's the inspiring message that most politicians, citizens and journalists brought home recently from Boulder, Colo., about Frederick County's ability to reduce and recycle trash. The trip was the brainchild of resident Caroline Eader who joined long-time efforts led by resident Sally Sorbello to look for alternatives to a $350 million, 1,500-ton regional incinerator in Frederick County. But Kevin Demoskly, deputy director of solid waste for the county, told The Gazette that there's "a different mindset" in Boulder than in Frederick. His gloomy assessment of residents' willingness to change their lifestyles reflects the thinking of much of the pro-incinerator crowd, including a majority of the county commissioners. But that's selling people short. And, in fact, most of those who traveled west say they were surprised at how little impact there was on their "daily habits." Jim Racheff, a Frederick resident and a rumored contender in the 2010 county commissioner race, said the trip proved that there's "nothing magical about Boulder."

A healthy dose of skepticism and hope

We are skeptical that America can ever become a society that throws away nothing, or what some environmentalists would call a ‘‘zero-waste” community. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, or at least search for economical ways to throw away less. Officials from Carroll and Frederick counties have been invited to do just that by taking a trip out West. Caroline Eader — who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and works as a paralegal for a science-based, nonprofit environmental land trust — splits her time between Frederick County and Boulder, Colo. She has invited Carroll and Frederick leaders to visit Boulder to see how that city handles its trash, and they are responding favorably. They are working to organize a trip for mid-June. Boulder adopted a resolution in May 2006 to work toward becoming a zero-waste city. It uses Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit organization, to manage its recycling program to work toward that goal. Eco-Cycle provides recycling to about 800 businesses, and operates a community recycling center for items that are typically difficult to recycle, such as porcelain sinks, Styrofoam blocks and electronic equipment.

Officials invited for a new look at trash

Sherry Greenfield
A woman who divides her time living in Frederick and Boulder, Colo., has invited officials from Frederick and Carroll counties to see how Boulder’s successful recycling program works. She sees the program as an alternative to the trash incinerator both counties are considering building here. Members of both county boards have spent the last week exchanging e-mails with Caroline Eader. Eader wants Frederick and Carroll officials to meet with representatives of Eco-Cycle Inc., a nonprofit recycling processor that has brought curbside recycling to Boulder residents and businesses since 1976. Eader touts Eco-Cycle’s efforts to create ‘‘zero waste.” The term means that all products and packaging is designed and built to be reused and recycled. Zero waste puts the responsibility of creating recyclable products on the manufacturers. Eco-Cycle is considered a ‘‘resource recovery” processor, because the items it collects are later sold on the open market. "... I would like you to see what a community can accomplish when it has the desire and the facilities in place to achieve a common goal,” Eader wrote in her e-mail invitation to both boards.