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Burning trash to generate electricity can reduce global-warming pollution, so some tout the approach as a way to meet renewable energy goals.

But the process emits other pollutants – like lead and mercury – that can affect health.

So when Destiny Watford, a high school student in Baltimore, learned about plans to build a waste-to-energy plant near her home, she was stunned.

Local and state politicians supported the plan. More than 20 local organizations, including the Baltimore City Public Schools, had signed contracts to purchase power from the new facility.

Advocates say emissions from waste-to-energy plants have been greatly reduced. But the neighborhood already had high levels of air pollution, so Destiny and other students did not want anything more added. They went door-to-door, sent e-mails, collected petitions, and presented their case to the school board.

Watford: “We recited our poetry, and we sung our songs and I shared a speech that I had written about why we need desperately to stop this incinerator.”

Watford, who’s now in college, says their efforts were successful – this time.

Watford: “If we ever stop fighting, developments like the incinerator are just going to keep happening. So we have to constantly be alert and aware of these things.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy. Original image courtesy of United Workers Media Team.

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