I want to thank Gov. Martin O'Malley for making the right decision and signing legislation that will put waste-to-energy on par with landfill gas in Maryland's renewable portfolio standard. This critical measure finally ends a policy that pushes garbage to mega-landfills. This new policy will help Maryland increase renewable energy generation near the areas of demand, increase economic activity and create high paying jobs.
During my 30-year career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I developed the conviction that this country needs to promote opportunities to recover clean energy from waste materials. Studies conducted by EPA show that modern waste-to-energy facilities provide the strongest opportunity to recover renewable energy from waste materials. The legislation enacted this week will help us do exactly that.
Right now, nearly 3.5 million tons of Maryland's municipal waste is being disposed of in landfills each year. This resource must be converted into an essential commodity, energy, and not wasted via environmentally destructive disposal. With this new law, we are on track to establish meaningful policies that will bring Maryland more in line with successful policies in Europe that promote both recycling and waste-to-energy, while minimizing the use of landfills. This important legislation recognizes that waste-to-energy reduces net greenhouse gas emissions and that waste-to-energy facilities exceed compliance with the most stringent state and federal emissions regulations.
We must continue to put policies in place to harness all renewable energy sources if we are to create market opportunities that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Maryland is now poised to lead the way in the generation of clean, renewable energy from waste.