O’Malley to sign energy incentive legislation

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
05/18/2011
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.

Commissioners suspend incinerator plans

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
04/29/2009
The Frederick County Commissioners are suspending deliberations on a proposed trash incinerator, and will focus instead on alternative disposal options. The commissioners accepted bids on the project earlier this year, and appeared to have narrowed those down to a preferred site and contractor to build and run the incinerator. But they voted 4-1 on Tuesday to suspend that process. Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. voted against the motion. Also known as waste-to-energy, the trash incinerator was intended to be a cheaper, long-term answer to the county's shrinking landfill space. The proposed project would have been built by Wheelabrator and located at McKinney Industrial Park, across the river from Monocacy National Battlefield. It would have cost Frederick and Carroll counties up to $527 million, and one commissioner said Tuesday the cost could even be as high as $615 million. A motion to proceed with that contract and add requirements to make it less visually intrusive was defeated 3-2, with only commissioners Thompson and David Gray in favor.

New trash disposal option considered

Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
03/05/2009
The county's waste-to-energy debate just got a little more complicated. Frederick County Commissioners Jan Gardner and Charles Jenkins announced Wednesday that they will look into another trash disposal option. This one uses a mechanical biological treatment system. The commissioners have considered building a $527 million incinerator that would burn trash and convert some of it into electricity. The idea has passionate supporters and detractors. Gardner and Jenkins plan to go to a March 16 conference in Philadelphia and meet with representatives of ArrowBio, the most well-known builder of mechanical biological treatment systems. None exist in the United States. There is one in Australia and one in Israel. The commissioners have boosted household recycling options this year. Still, that probably won't significantly reduce the 600 to 800 tons of daily residential trash that the county collects. Most of the county's trash is trucked to a landfill in southern Virginia, an option the county will have through 2015. The commissioners are looking for a more permanent option. "On a number of fronts, ArrowBio seems promising," Jenkins said at Wednesday's press conference. A ballpark estimate of the cost is $75 million to $100 million. If the county decides to build an incinerator with Wheelabrator, the company county staff recommends, the plant could cost the county up to $325 million. Carroll County would pay the rest. The two counties would share the plant, but it would be built in Frederick County.

County may license trash haulers

Frederick News Post
Meg Tully
10/29/2008
The Frederick County Commissioners may replace a controversial trash franchising plan with a new proposal to license trash haulers. As the commissioners culled their list of 2009 state legislative priorities Tuesday morning, they opted not to vote about moving forward on franchising. They will discuss licensing as an alternative at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 6. County officials had touted the franchising bill as a tool to increase recycling because it would allow them to make curbside pickup mandatory in trash collection contracts. Only 54,000 households now get curbside recycling. That service is provided by the county. The franchising bill failed last April in the Maryland General Assembly, when trash haulers objected and Frederick County Sen. Alex Mooney, a Republican, refused to support it. The bill would have given the county the authority to arrange area trash hauling contracts instead of letting residents individually choose haulers. Licensing haulers could have the same effect, by requiring curbside pickup as a condition of getting a license from the county. Commissioner Kai Hagen announced Tuesday that he will oppose franchising, sparking interest in the licensing alternative. He decided to oppose the franchising legislation, he said, because he believes the county could increase its recycling programs with the powers it has now.

A healthy dose of skepticism and hope

Gazette
04/10/2008
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.

If incinerator fails, county may opt for a new landfill

Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
12/20/2007
Frederick County Commission President Jan H. Gardner (D) said this week the county would have to site a new landfill if commissioners decide against a trash-burning incinerator. "I do believe if we don’t pursue waste-to-energy, then we do have to move in the direction of siting land for a new landfill,” she said. Gardner acknowledged that siting a new landfill would not be easy — commissioners would need to find 300 to 500 acres of open land, away from homes. Gardner’s assessment comes after a two-night public hearing on an incinerator proposal. Commissioners started listening to testimony from residents and environmental groups on Dec. 11 and finished up Dec. 12.