MD Legislators Announce Bill to Clean Up Renewable Portfolio Standard

Reclaim Renewable Energy Act would end ratepayer subsidized pollution, liberate state’s clean energy program to further climate goals

Published Jan 31, 2023


Climate and Energy

Reclaim Renewable Energy Act would end ratepayer subsidized pollution, liberate state’s clean energy program to further climate goals

Reclaim Renewable Energy Act would end ratepayer subsidized pollution, liberate state’s clean energy program to further climate goals

Annapolis, MD — Today, Delegate Vaughn Stewart and Senator Lewis Young announced legislation to clean up Maryland’s signature clean energy program, the renewable portfolio standard. For years, communities have suffered negative health and quality of life impacts from living near polluting infrastructure like the BRESCO trash incinerator in Baltimore, that have qualified for ratepayer money under the current standard. As new dirty factory farm gas facilities threaten communities on the Eastern Shore, activists are calling for an end to ratepayer subsidized pollution.

The Reclaim Renewable Energy Act, expected to be formally introduced shortly, would remove trash incineration, factory farm gas, and woody biomass from qualification in the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

Since 2008, Maryland’s renewable energy credits and millions of ratepayer dollars have gone to polluting, carbon-intensive fuel sources, threatening public health and undermining climate goals. In 2020, about 25 percent of Maryland’s “clean” energy came from dirty sources. Meeting Governor Wes Moore’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035 will require elimination of these dirty fuels from the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

“These giveaways are great for corporate polluters, but terrible for working families in Maryland,” said Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D-19). “Handouts for dirty energy means fewer clean energy jobs and higher utility bills. It’s way past time to turn off the pollution spigot.”

“When a trash incinerator was proposed in my county, local leaders fought hard for eight long years to make sure it was never built, because trash incineration is not renewable energy,” said Senator Karen Lewis Young (D-3). “Trash incineration is not a part of Maryland’s future; real renewable energy is. On the land where Frederick’s trash incinerator was proposed to be built, a solar farm now stands. I’m sponsoring this bill to make sure that trash incinerator subsidies get replaced with solar subsidies for all of Maryland.”

“Cleaning up Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is a prerequisite for climate action in Annapolis this year,” said Jorge Aguilar, Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director. “For too long, ratepayers have been subsidizing climate pollution, paying millions to keep dirty projects alive. But make no mistake — clean energy comes from the wind and sun, not trash and poultry waste. The legislature must pass the Reclaim Renewable Energy Act to liberate Maryland’s signature clean energy program from these dirty sources.”

“Maryland communities with incinerators, built or proposed, have been demanding that the state stop subsidizing incineration ever since it was elevated to tier 1 in the RPS a decade ago,” said Jennifer Kunze, Maryland Program Coordinator with Clean Water Action. “We need to stop wasting our renewable energy money on subsidizing the worst forms of solid waste management; as Maryland communities with trash incinerators work to transition away from them, the state must support that work by ending these subsidies. And we need to end subsidies for factory farm methane gas now, before any such facilities are built in Maryland, to level the playing field with better methods of waste management.”

“For decades residents have been fighting against Baltimore’s #1 air polluter, the BRESCO trash burning incinerator,” said Shashawnda Campbell, Environmental Justice Coordinator with the South Baltimore Community Land Trust. “We as residents have felt the health impacts from this incinerator, and if that isn’t enough, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation did a study that found that the BRESCO incinerator alone causes 55 million dollars a year in health damages. Trash incineration is the dirtiest way to deal with our solid waste, so it is a slap in the face to these communities that feel the health impacts everyday to say it is ‘Renewable Energy.’ The only way our communities can survive is if the state stops subsidizing incineration and begins subsidizing alternatives that we do want, such as new infrastructure for composting, recycling, reducing, and reusing.”

“It is not surprising that polluting industries are trying to hold themselves up as green energy — but it is insulting that the public, at this moment in time, is being asked to subsidize the very same polluting industries that have threatened their health and environment for far too long,” said Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative with Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP). “The Reclaim Renewable Energy Act invests in sustainable clean energy that Maryland families will benefit from today-as well as future generations.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]

Press Contact: Phoebe Galt [email protected]