Who's paying attention?

Frederick News Post
Susan Hanson
10/25/2013
Last month we got the news (The News-Post, Sept. 18) that the MIT test of the air quality in Frederick is dismal. Frederick is almost as bad as Baltimore. Some officials are blaming the coal-fired power plants in the Midwest. Frederick County already pays a fee (called an offset) because of its poor air quality levels. This is before we have started adding the stuff that will come out of the incinerator once we start burning the trash and tires at this proposed facility. Is anyone out there paying attention and saying hmm, we’re going to have to pay a lot more for all of this additional smog? And this toxic stuff cannot be blamed on our neighbors.

Officials in holding pattern on waste-to-energy

Young: Incinerator's future is uncertain
Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
10/06/2013
An effort to build a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick County remains on ice as the state weighs a trio of environmental permits. County officials expected the permitting process would be wrapped up by August. More than a month later, they are not sure how much longer it will take. With leaders from Frederick County, Carroll County and possibly other jurisdictions locked in a holding pattern, Commissioners President Blaine Young says the fate of the waste-to-energy project is unclear. "I think it's a coin toss," Young said. "I don't feel confident to say the project is dead. I don't feel confident to say the project is a go." Frederick County leaders are waiting to determine whether it still makes financial sense to build a facility that would consume trash to generate electricity. Carroll County, a partner in the project, wants to back out, but must find a replacement or pay a fine. And no replacement partner is going to show serious interest until the project secures its approvals from the Maryland Department of the Environment, Young said."Nobody really knows where these permits are at and where the issue is here," he said. A spokeswoman for the state agency wrote in late September that "MDE is still working through the permit process" and doesn't have a set date for completion.

Incinerator will add to air pollution

Frederick News Post
Ellis Burruss
10/1/2013
The letter in Sunday’s Frederick News-Post from Maryland Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers clearly describes the difficulty of cleaning the air we breathe while it’s being polluted from neighboring states. As the Sept. 18 editorial pointed out: Air pollution in Frederick County is at a dangerous level and can affect the health of all county residents. However, while Mr. Summers’ concern for stopping pollution from other states is very important, it should be noted that his agency is currently reviewing permit applications for a trash incinerator that will add a significant amount of pollution to our already burdened local atmosphere. The incinerator, which is planned to be built right off English Muffin Way in south Frederick, will burn 1,500 tons a day of mixed trash, old tires and sewage sludge. Despite “state of the art” pollution controls, incinerators are major sources of highly toxic pollutants and carcinogens, chemicals that form ozone (smog), and fine particles that are so small that they can reach the deepest parts of the lung and cross directly into the bloodstream. Because our local air is already so polluted, the hundreds of tons of nitrogen oxides emitted from the incinerator will require us (the taxpayers) to purchase pollution offsets from other communities. We will still breathe the pollution and we’ll have to pay for the privilege!

Citizens Protest Proposed Incinerator

WFMD
Kevin McManus
09/21/213
Chanting "Hey, hey; ho, ho; incinerator has got to go," and unfurling a banner which read "Draw The Line; No Incinerator; Fight CLimate Change," a group of citizens gathered at the McKinney Industrial Park Saturday morning to protest the proposed waste to energy facility for Frederick County. The demonstration was local, but it was driven by national organizations such as 350.org, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which are concerned about the impact incineration has on climate change. "It's the most environmentally irresponsible approach we could take," says former county commissioner Kai Hagen, who was at the rally. "There are public health concerns and it's an incredibly risky financial endeavor that was never really justified. The economic model used to justify it was indefensible then, and it's even more indefensible now." Hagen was on the Board of County Commissioners when approval was given to go ahead with the project. He voted in opposition.

Incinerator opponents plan weekend rally

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/20/2013
Opponents of building a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick County are planning a Saturday morning demonstration at the site of the proposed facility. The gathering fits into a nationwide movement to protest projects that protest participants believe will intensify global warming, according to a news release. The Frederick County event will begin at 10 a.m. at 4549 Metropolitan Court. Event organizers say projects that create climate problems will place a burden on future generations. "Sure, we need to challenge our kids. But not to pay bigger bills while adjusting to a warmer, more disaster-prone climate," said Kathryn Ruud, of Middletown. "We need to challenge them to create energy with renewable sources and to learn ways to consume and recycle that do not create mountains of trash and materials to bury." The Draw the Line campaign is supported by 350.org and Chesapeake Climate Action Network and will include rallies, demonstrations and other events.

Frederick leaders consider city’s role in incinerator project

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
08/13/2013
Questions about the county’s waste-to-energy project are starting to smolder among officials in the city of Frederick. Though most decisions about the incinerator project have happened at the county level, at least two aldermen believe city leaders have a role to play. In an email sent to fellow board members last week, Alderwoman Karen Young recommended calling an optional evening meeting to hear from both sides of the debate over the incinerator. “I do believe that this is a City issue because City participation will be needed to make this project viable. In addition, if it is a major concern to our residents, then it becomes a City issue,” she wrote. Her email came in response to a message from an incinerator opponent who had detailed his concerns about the project and urged the aldermen to look into it more deeply.

Frederick leaders consider city's role in incinerator project

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
08/13/2013
Questions about the county’s waste-to-energy project are starting to smolder among officials in the city of Frederick. Though most decisions about the incinerator project have happened at the county level, at least two aldermen believe city leaders have a role to play. In an email sent to fellow board members last week, Alderwoman Karen Young recommended calling an optional evening meeting to hear from both sides of the debate over the incinerator. “I do believe that this is a City issue because City participation will be needed to make this project viable. In addition, if it is a major concern to our residents, then it becomes a City issue,” she wrote. Her email came in response to a message from an incinerator opponent who had detailed his concerns about the project and urged the aldermen to look into it more deeply.

With privatization’s end comes a time to reflect, explain

Frederick News Post
07/14/2013
Saying there's nothing more to privatize, Commissioners President Blaine Young called it a day in a optimistically toned July 8 letter to county staff, lauding a streamlined, much-less-costly, much-less-populated county government. The controversial and unfortunate decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living "will be the last major change this Board will make," he wrote. Since 2009, the county workforce has been reduced by 25 percent -- one in every four staff -- through "layoffs, eliminating vacant positions and consolidating County divisions and departments and privatizing services." "I realize all the changes have been difficult," Young wrote. That doesn't really capture it.

With privatization's end comes a time to reflect, explain

Frederick News Post
07/14/2013
Saying there's nothing more to privatize, Commissioners President Blaine Young called it a day in a optimistically toned July 8 letter to county staff, lauding a streamlined, much-less-costly, much-less-populated county government. The controversial and unfortunate decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation and Montevue Assisted Living "will be the last major change this Board will make," he wrote. Since 2009, the county workforce has been reduced by 25 percent -- one in every four staff -- through "layoffs, eliminating vacant positions and consolidating County divisions and departments and privatizing services." "I realize all the changes have been difficult," Young wrote. That doesn't really capture it.

WTE endgame

Frederick News Post
Fred Ugast
07/09/2013
It’s no surprise that the Carroll County Commissioners voted last month to earmark $3 million in reserves to pay a termination penalty if they withdraw from the partnership with Frederick County to build a bi-county waste-to-energy facility and a suitable replacement partner does not step in. Those commissioners made clear long ago that a majority will not support Carroll County’s participation in the project. But by putting their money where their mouth is, the commissioners have taken a small but important step in moving toward the endgame of the divisive and unfortunate saga that this project represents. Sometime in the next few weeks or months, the Maryland Department of the Environment is likely to issue the permits necessary to allow construction of the project to move forward and set the stage for the crucial step of preparing and selling the bonds to finance it. I won’t rehash the pros and cons of this project. Since the 2005 Beck Report on Frederick County’s waste disposal options, this issue has been debated in great detail on almost every conceivable front, including its potential environmental, economic, public health and historical/cultural impacts. People whose opinions I respect have come down on both sides of this debate, and we can stipulate that this is a complex and difficult subject. I think building it would be a huge financial blunder, but I can respect that others think those concerns are overblown or trumped by other elements. I don’t know whether it will ultimately get built or not, but I hope we can cool the rhetoric enough for the Frederick County Commissioners to take another look and use Carroll County’s decision as an opportunity rather than a challenge. While WTE supporters can legitimately point to costs and risks of not moving this project forward after all these years, the financial risk to taxpayers deserves a fresh review using revised assumptions and greater sensitivity analysis than presented to date.

Calls for local boycotts ill-advised

Frederick News Post
07/05/2013
Some major decisions by the Frederick County Commissioners have been received poorly by many in the community. Obvious examples include constructing a waste-to-energy incinerator and the decision to sell Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. We understand the emotional reaction of those who oppose these moves, and the need they feel to act. A recent letter to the editor from a local business owner, however, discusses a form of action that, like him, we think is inappropriate. Calls have been issued on several locally created Web pages to boycott businesses owned or operated by Commissioners President Blaine Young — as well as businesses that sponsor Young or are customers of companies or services owned by the commissioner.

Let's follow Carroll County's lead on incinerator

Frederick News Post
Patrice Gallagher
07/04/2013
The No Incinerator Alliance wholeheartedly supports the recent decision by the Carroll County Commissioners to withdraw from the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project. With this decision, those commissioners are recognizing the fact that the old technology of burning waste is not a good business plan when less costly alternatives are available. The NIA encourages the Frederick County Commissioners to take this opportunity to re-examine the assumptions on which the incinerator project was based. The financial projections made by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority are unrealistic and not a basis on which to commit Frederick County to decades of burdensome debt (see no-incinerator.org for details) and exorbitant operating costs.

Let’s follow Carroll County’s lead on incinerator

Frederick News Post
Patrice Gallagher
07/04/2013
The No Incinerator Alliance wholeheartedly supports the recent decision by the Carroll County Commissioners to withdraw from the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project. With this decision, those commissioners are recognizing the fact that the old technology of burning waste is not a good business plan when less costly alternatives are available. The NIA encourages the Frederick County Commissioners to take this opportunity to re-examine the assumptions on which the incinerator project was based. The financial projections made by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority are unrealistic and not a basis on which to commit Frederick County to decades of burdensome debt (see no-incinerator.org for details) and exorbitant operating costs.

Carroll preparing to pay $3 million penalty fee to avoid building incinerator

Carroll County Times
Christian Alexandersen
06/28/2013
While the Carroll County Board of Commissioners still hopes to avoid building a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project with Frederick County, it has begun preparing itself to pay a $3 million penalty fee. The board voted 3-1, with Commissioner Doug Howard abstaining, to set aside $3 million to pay the penalty fee that would be needed only if Frederick cannot find a replacement for Carroll’s 40 percent partnership in the incinerator. The $3 million penalty would come from the county’s Fiscal Year 2013 reserve for contingencies fund.

Carroll County officials to consider departure from incinerator pact

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/27/2013
Carroll County commissioners today might map their exit from a partnership with Frederick County on a regional waste-to-energy incinerator. Though several Carroll County commissioners want to bow out of the project, the timing of a potential withdrawal is a point of contention. Some board members want to call it quits despite possibly incurring a $3 million penalty, while others hope to hold off until they can avoid the cost, said Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild. Today's board meeting will allow commissioners to discuss whether to set aside funds for a potential penalty payment should they end their involvement with the incinerator. Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young said he would bear no ill will toward Carroll County leaders if they opt out of the project to build an incinerator. But Frederick County needs Carroll County to decide one way or the other, he said. "Their problem is they want to get out of the responsibility of paying anything. It doesn't work that way," Young said.

Carroll commissioners to discuss waste-to-energy, stormwater management fee

Carroll County Times
Christian Alexandersen
06/23/2013
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to discuss and possibly make a decision on the waste-to-energy proposal Thursday. In June 2012, the board sent a letter to its Frederick County counterparts suggesting each party go their own way when it comes to plans for a waste-to-energy incinerator. In August, Frederick County sent a letter back stating that Carroll may seek alternatives while it looks for substitute equity partners to replace Carroll in the contract between the two counties. Frederick County has yet to find a partner to replace Carroll.

Time to junk trash-to-energy programs like one in Newport?

St. Paul Pioneer Press
Bob Shaw
06/22/2013
A program based in Newport burns garbage to generate electricity. But it is also burning something else -- money. If it burned 30,000 dollar bills every day for 19 years, that would almost equal the $219 million in public subsidies it has received through 2013. As generators of electricity, waste-to-energy plants nationwide cost five times as much as solar generation, and 50 times more than natural gas. As a way to keep garbage out of landfills, the plants are outshone by programs that do the same thing at no cost to taxpayers.

Wrong on waste-to-energy details

Frederick News Post
Caroliine Eader
06/16/2013
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.

Comments due on incinerator

Carroll County Times
05/19/2013
Residents deserve to know where the board stands, and if there has been any change of heart concerning getting out of the contract. Opponents to the airport expansion were surprised when the issue suddenly appeared on the commissioners’ agenda with no advance warning and the board quickly reversed its earlier decision with little opportunity for public input. It isn’t a far stretch, given their history of secrecy and penchant for closed-door deal-making, to consider the possibility of something like that happening again with the incinerator.

Frederick Public will pay for incinerator

Frederick News Post
Matthew Seubert
05/18/2013
Where will all this money come from? The county and the NEA claim it will come from electricity generated by burning trash, the sale of recovered metals and tip fees. Nearly all of the electricity generated is contractually pledged first to Wheelabrator to cover operating costs. Little, if any, will arc its way into county coffers. The real answer to the question is much simpler. The money will come from a tax on every property owner in the county in the form of a system benefit charge on our property tax bill, which can be increased by the county at will.