For moving the Maine Legislature to address gaps in monitoring and managing emissions from waste-to-energy incinerator plants
Jenna Shue, a senior at Hampden Academy, inspires all of us who believe that one person truly can make a difference. Jenna grew up within sight of a waste incineration plant and became concerned about potential health impacts.At age fourteen, she began researching the process of burning waste to generate electricity.
She interviewed neighbors and discovered that many of them were also concerned about the plant. Jenna contacted representatives from the plant and state officials. Along the way, she concluded that current studies of emissions and their potential impact on public health were inadequate.
More than a year ago, she published her findings in an opinion piece, titled “Waste in the Air We Breathe,” in the Bangor Daily News. She heard some positive feedback, but her piece did not spur any official action.
By now, Jenna’s research and concerns had become a family affair. With the support of her father, Jim, Jenna contacted several legislators, including Representative Jeff Kaelin of Winterport. Representative Kaelin listened to her concerns, looked over her research, reviewed current environmental law, and ultimately sponsored a bill to require the state to review emissions from waste-to-energy incinerator plants. In between schoolwork, sports, and other activities, Jenna helped to pass the bill by testifying before the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. Jenna has since been appointed to the state’s Air Toxics Advisory Committee.
Curiosity. Concern. Research. Inspiration. Communication. Perseverance. Jenna’s journey reminds us how much we must do and can accomplish as individuals to protect our environment and public health.