Bans On Crude Oil Terminals And Styrofoam Advance in Baltimore

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Critics of both environmental bills fear the affects on business in Baltimore, but advocates say both bills will help usher in a sustainable future for the city

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Story Transcript

DHARNA NOOR: I’m here in Baltimore City Hall where City Council has just voted to push two pieces of environmental legislation to third reader. The first is a ban on Styrofoam food containers, and the second would prohibit the creation of new crude oil terminals and prohibit the expansion of existing ones.

JOHN BULLOCK: Quite frankly we’ve been interested in the environment, the effect of polystyrene and also trying to get it out of our waste stream.

ZEKE COHEN: A crude oil threat and 165,000 people who live in the blast zone in Baltimore City, and facilitate the extraction and combustion of some of the most climate polluting oil on the planet.

DHARNA NOOR: We asked advocates who worked on both bills to respond to some of their critics.

ERIC COSTELLO: By enacting this ban we are further damaging the port’s ability to be competitive. Not only on the Eastern seaboard, but throughout the nation and internationally.

DHARNA NOOR: So what’s your response to all of this?

TAYLOR SMITH-HAMS: By taking this position and by making sure that we are not building any new crude oil terminals at the port, we are also making sure that we are using our resources strategically and with a long-term vision to be a leader in sustainable development and renewable energy. And making sure that we are the clean energy powerhouse that we are capable of being, and not locking ourselves into the economy of the past by building out more fossil fuel infrastructure.

JENNIFER KUNZE: A couple of years ago in 2014, a Texas-based oil company proposed to build a new crude oil terminal down in South Baltimore. And that itself would have caused more than 10,000 tanker cars of crude oil every year, coming through South Baltimore by rail lines. Cars that now, because that terminal was not built, will not be coming through those neighborhoods. And so if a new terminal were built, it would really put a lot of people in the city at risk. So instead of waiting for an oil company to propose a new one, and having to fight them off one by one, this is a pro-active and intelligent thing for the city to do now to make sure that we don’t have to fight that fight again.

DHARNA NOOR: And could I get your response to some of the opponents of this bill who were saying that they could not absorb the cost of this bill.

PHIL QUICK: Just for me, to use a paper cup or a plastic cup will cost about $5,000.00 more a year. And we can’t absorb that cost.

N. KOPHENGNAVONG: The compliance with other restaurants will create a market shift, which would drive down the prices of alternative to styrofoam.

ALEXANDRA GRAYSON: I think a lot of the opposition is really based on a belief of convenience, I guess. What’s convenient isn’t necessarily what’s right and what’s good for the environment or our health. And I think our legislators are making a good decision by not listening to the opposition and choosing what’s right.