City-Adopted Policies

Aside from the Ban the Burn at Every Turn Act, all of the resolutions and ordinances listed below were adopted unanimously by Baltimore City Council, urging a move away from incineration and toward Zero Waste.

9/21/2020: Ban the Burn at Every Turn Act
20-0615: Bill Text | Info | 10/2/2020 Judiciary Committee Hearing
(introduced; killed in Judiciary committee)

8/17/2020: Defending the Baltimore Clean Air Act
20-0243R: Resolution Text | Info

  • In response to the administration’s talk about settling the Baltimore Clean Air Act appeal, this resolution makes the case against a new contract to keep burning the city’s trash at Wheelabrator, and for rigorously defending the Baltimore Clean Air Act.

4/6/2020: City Council Seeks City Appeal to Preserve Baltimore’s Clean Air Act
20-0207R: Resolution Text | Info

  • Prior to the city appealing the lower court ruling against the Baltimore Clean Air Act, this resolution urged the mayor to file the appeal.

3/9/2020: Baltimore’s Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste: 2020-2040 and Beyond
20-0202R: Resolution Text | Info

  • Endorses the Fair Development Plan for Zero Waste as an alternative to the controversial Solid Waste and Recycling Master Plan by Geosyntec.

3/7/2019: Baltimore Clean Air Act
18-0306: Bill Text | Info

  • Requires Wheelabrator Baltimore trash incinerator and Curtis Bay Energy medical waste incinerator to continuously monitor 20 air pollutants and report the data on a website in real-time by September 2020.
  • Requires that both waste incinerators meet modern requirements for emissions of sulfur dioxides and mercury by September 2020 and for nitrogen oxides and dioxins by 1/1/2022.
  • Challenged in federal court, struck down on preemption grounds, and the city’s legal appeal was withdrawn in the final month of Mayor Young’s administration, when the city gave up defending the Clean Air Act and cut a 10-year contract with Wheelabrator that incorporates about half of the Baltimore Clean Air Act’s requirements.
  • See the Baltimore Clean Air Act page for further background.

5/14/2018: DPW Waste Study: “Improving Development of a Baltimore City Recycling and Solid Waste Management Master Plan”
18-0086R: Resolution Text | Info

  • “Wheelabrator Baltimore is the city’s single largest air polluter, releasing 57% of the industrial emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Baltimore City, equivalent to emissions from half of the cars or half of the trucks in the city, and is also the city’s largest source of air pollution from benzo[a]pyrene, chromium VI, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, lead, mercury, and sulfur dioxides.”
  • “All work done to develop this Master Plan must abide by these City directives [Resolutions referenced above] by planning for an end to the use of incineration by 1/1/2022, and must strictly abide by the internationally peer-reviewed Zero Waste Hierarchy as codified by the Zero Waste International Alliance”
  • “Council requests that amendments to the RFP specifically require that the Zero Waste Hierarchy (as codified by the Zero Waste International Alliance) be strictly followed; that the Plan not consider any use of incineration beyond 12/31/2021 and plan for Wheelabrator Baltimore to be closed after that time; that the Plan not consider privatizing, mining or rapidly filling Quarantine Road Landfill, mixed waste processing, ‘solid recovered fuel production’, or gasification; and that the plan focus on implementing Zero Waste, with closure of the incinerator by 1/1/2022, replacement of the steam loop’s needs with non-burn alternatives, and setting up the needed Zero Waste policies and infrastructure as rapidly as possible in order to maximize the life of Quarantine Road Landfill.”

10/16/2017: NOx Resolution: “Request for State Action – Set a Strong Nitrogen Oxides Limit for the Wheelabrator Baltimore Incinerator”
17-0034R: Resolution Text | Info

  • “In 2015, the Baltimore incinerator emitted 1,123 tons of NOx, making it the sixth largest emitter of NOx in the State of Maryland that year. The Baltimore incinerator also emitted more NOx per unit of energy generated in 2015 than any other large power plant in Maryland.”
  • “The Council requests that the Maryland Department of the Environment use its legal authority to go beyond the RACT standard in order to set a nitrogen oxides limit of 45 ppm on a 24-hour basis, which is the limit that would likely be set for a new incinerator.”
    • NOTE: this request for a 45 part per million (ppm) limit for Wheelabrator’s NOx emissions has been ignored by the state. The Baltimore Clean Air Act would set this same standard at the city level. This is the standard the state required in two permits issued for new waste incinerators in recent years.
  • Baltimore City Health Department commented:“Baltimore City suffers from high rates of asthma. The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports 12.4% of Baltimore City adults have asthma, four points higher than the statewide average. Moreover, 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 in Baltimore City suffer from asthma, double the national average. These high rates lead to large losses of productivity through missed school and work days. Reduced air pollution realized through a Zero Waste plan could help the city lower its asthma rates.”

6/19/2017: Climate: “Request for City Action – Supporting the Paris Accord”
17-0029R: Resolution Text | Info

  • “In 2015, a single Baltimore trash incinerator emitted 764,895 tons of carbon dioxide, the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the city by far.”
  • “Baltimore City will strive to disincentivize energy generation from incineration technologies, a source of greenhouse gases, and mitigate health harms associated with pollution from combustion.”
  • Baltimore City will develop a solid waste management plan that will curtail the use of waste incineration, with the explicit aims of eliminating waste incineration and protecting the workers involved.”

6/5/2017: Zero Waste: “Informational Hearing – Moving Baltimore to Zero Waste”
17-0022R: Resolution Text | Info

  • Points out that incinerators are worse for the climate than coal power plants
  • Calls on city agencies and Zero Waste experts to report back to City Council and discuss development of a Zero Waste plan for Baltimore

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