Wheelabrator, NWRA file lawsuit against city of Baltimore

On April 30, Wheelabrator Baltimore, Curtis Bay Energy, the Energy Recovery Council, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), and TMS Hauling joined together to file a lawsuit against the city of Baltimore for the recently signed Baltimore Clean Air Act.

According to the lawsuit, the groups believe the Baltimore Clean Air Act is an effort by the city to shut down the Wheelabrator Baltimore waste-to-energy facility and the Curtis Bay Baltimore Regional Medical Waste Incinerator via restrictive air quality regulations—a move that would have sweeping ramifications to the region’s waste infrastructure.

The Baltimore Clean Air Act, which was signed into law by Mayor Catherine Pugh March 7, “is the first effort by the city to regulate air emissions that have been subject to federal and state air quality management under the federal Clean Air Act for 50 years. The act is not a good faith effort to regulate air emissions. Rather, it is a targeted attempt to shut down two specific facilities [Wheelabrator Baltimore and Curtis Bay Energy], ignoring all other stationary and mobile sources of air emissions in the city,” the lawsuit states.

With the passage of the Baltimore Clean Air Act, the sites in question would be forced to revamp operations and include new monitoring equipment to comply, which the plaintiffs state would be unnecessarily prohibitive and threaten Wheelabrator and Curtis Bay’s ability to continue operations.

The lawsuit goes on to state, “The act imposes extraordinary and unprecedented constraints that do not advance public health, are not science- or fact-based, and in fact are in furtherance of an agenda to close the facilities regardless of the consequences to residents and businesses in Baltimore city and beyond. The city acknowledges that the act will at a minimum require the Wheelabrator facility to close for some indeterminate period of time, and perhaps forever. The act will also cause the Curtis Bay facility to shut down at least temporarily to install unnecessary and financially burdensome equipment upgrades.”

“NWRA joins Wheelabrator and Curtis Bay Energy LP in asking the federal court to declare the Baltimore Clean Air Act to be unlawful and preempted under federal and Maryland laws,” NWRA President Darrell Smith said in a statement. “The solid waste facilities operated by Wheelebrator and Curtis Bay Energy LP have met all science-based emissions standards established under federal and state laws and are fully licensed to operate under federal and state law.”