Fairfield Renewable Energy Power Plant and Resource Recovery Project, Curtis Bay, MD

by Andrew Brummer, Colgate University, 2016

Energy Answers International, a private energy company based in Albany, New York, is currently building the nation’s largest waste-to-energy incinerator in Curtis Bay, Maryland. These types of power plants emit numerous different pollutants, including conventional greenhouse gases, particulate matter and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury[1]. Not only does Curtis Bay already have some of the highest levels of pollution in the nation[2], but the site for the incinerator is less than one mile away from the Benjamin Franklin High School and the Curtis Bay Elementary School[3].

A mock-up of what the Fairfield Renewable Energy Project will look like once it is completed. (Energy Answers International, 2015)

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Three Gorges Dam, China

Three Gorges Dam, one of the most impressive energy-related projects undertaken by the Chinese government in the last decades, has caused a great amount of controversy because of its environmental and socio-cultural impacts. Some of the issues caused by this massive hydropower plant include land degradation, an increased risk of flooding, and the resettlement of 1.27 million people[1].

Pedro Vásquez Colmenares, Three Gorges Dam. July 18, 2007, Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvcg/3412711352 (accessed November 28, 2014).
Pedro Vásquez Colmenares, Three Gorges Dam. July 18, 2007, Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvcg/3412711352 (accessed November 28, 2014).

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Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, India

Standing over 260 metres high on the Bhagirathi river in the state of Uttarakhand, Tehri Dam is one of the tallest dams in the world. It is part of a larger hydroelectric power complex, managed by the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC).

India - WRIS (Water Resources Information System of India) (2012)
Tehri Dam (Water Resources Information System of India 2012)

The complex has been under construction since 1978 with assistance from the former Soviet Union[1], and is currently being expanded to include a pumped storage plant. The project has been criticized by environmental and social advocacy groups over its economic feasibility[2], and resilience to local geological activity[3] and flooding[4], leading to cases being filed in the Supreme Court[5].

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PM2.5 Non-Attainment Area: Fairbanks North Star Borough, AK

In interior Alaska, residents and officials of the Fairbanks North Star Borough (the FNSB) are dealing with a contentious topic – how to have access to affordable energy while still maintaining good public health.  High costs of living in the FNSB[1] have caused residents to use wood stoves as a cheap way to heat their homes as an alternative to home heating oil.[2]

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Hoa Binh Dam, Vietnam

The Hoa Binh hydroelectric dam is the most significant resource project in Vietnam. Though it has transformed northern Vietnam’s electrical energy sector, the Hoa Binh hydroelectric project has also created the greatest combined social and environmental displacements in the country since the end of the Vietnam War[1]. This dam and its impact on indigenous people exemplify a wider complication in Vietnam, in which developmental and environmental objectives contradict one another, as well as national and local interests.

Hoa Binh Dam
Hoa Binh Hydroelectric Dam. (Wikipedia, 2016). [Wikipedia, 2016].
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Glen Canyon Dam, AZ

Glen Canyon Dam, on the Colorado River, is a critical resource to provide both power and water to millions in the American West. However, the large-scale disruption of the Colorado River has had unforeseeable environmental and social consequences. Issues of inequity have arisen due to the disproportionate amount of water reaching the region in northern Mexico that relies on the river[1]. Of the water that does reach Mexico, the quality is extremely poor, soiled by the high salinity levels. Issues of sustainability surface, especially because the river already fails to reach the Colorado River Delta.

“Glen Canyon Dam” (Byzewski 2012).


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