This year, the General Assembly will see bipartisan environmental justice legislation that would remove trash incineration as an eligible source in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Maryland’s RPS was created in 2004 to encourage the development of clean and renewable energy in our state by providing renewable energy subsidies to energy providers like power plants. But in 2011, after much dirty industry lobbying, the definition of clean and renewable energy (which typically includes wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc.) was expanded to include trash incineration, or burning waste for energy. Since 2012, Marylanders have sent  over $108 million in subsidies to trash incinerator companies in Maryland and Virginia that have polluted over 7 million tons of carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change. 

It's time to reclaim renewable energy from this corporate boondoggle -- and save taxpayer money.

Stop subsidizing burning our trash and let’s begin to reclaim renewable energy in 2024!

/By Senay Emmanuel/<> By sending tens of millions of dollars each year in subsidies to billion-dollar trash incinerator companies that emit greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution, Maryland contradicts the foundational premise of the RPS and backtracks on key commitments established in the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 regarding emissions reductions. This legislation continues the ongoing process of cleaning up Maryland’s RPS program until it has 100% clean, renewable, non-emitting, and non-combustible sources. 

Why should we pass the RREA of 2024?

  1. Burning trash for energy is a polluting and non-renewable source of energy and should not receive clean energy subsidies that should go to truly clean sources like wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Trash incinerators are dirtier than coal plants, emitting more harmful pollutants and greenhouse gasses like mercury, lead, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide. These pollutants are often emitted in communities overburdened by air and water pollution. Baltimore’s BRESCO trash incinerator is the primary source of emissions across the city and focuses most of that pollution in Black and Brown communities adjacent to the facility. 
  2. The current RPS artificially cheapens the worst methods of dealing with our waste and should be altered to support the development of truly clean and sustainable alternatives like wind and solar energy, composting, and recycling. Maryland’s RPS is creating a financial environment where old, expensive, and worse methods of dealing with our waste like trash incineration, through policy choices, are artificially made cheaper than newer, safer alternatives like composting and recycling which have significantly less environmental and community impact. 
  3. Investing in zero-waste management strategies like composting and recycling creates more cost savings, economic benefits, and good quality employment opportunities. And for every 1 person employed at a trash incinerator, 9 jobs could be created at a recycling facility and 4 jobs could be created at a composting facility.


 “Jobs & Economic Benefits of Zero Waste,” Eco-Cycle,

Marie Donahue, “Report: Waste Incineration: A Dirty Secret in How States Define Renewable Energy,” Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 12 December 2018,

“Trash Incineration More Polluting than Coal,” Energy Justice Network,

“Why Should Baltimore Recycle More?,” Institute for Local Self-Reliance, March 2017, www.

“2017 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report,” John Hopkins University, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, November 2020,


“2022 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Report,” Maryland Public Service Commission, December 2023, CY22-RPS-Annual-Report_Final-w-Corrected-Appdx-A.pdf.

woody woodruff


M.A. and Ph.d. from University of Maryland Merrill College of Journalism, would-be radical, sci-fi fan... retired to a life of keyboard radicalism...