Archive for the Incinerator (WTE) Category

Zero Waste and Green Jobs Challenge from the Sierra Club

Posted in Environment_national_global, Incinerator (WTE), World Changing with tags , , on February 2, 2009 by Kai Hagen
Below is a January 20, 2009 News Release from the Zero Waste Committee of the Sierra Club. And below the news release is the related resolution adopted by Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee, entitled “Green Jobs Waste Surcharge: an economic Stimulus for Zero Waste

The release is about two weeks old now, and I haven’t yet heard anything to suggest that the “Green Jobs Waste Surcharge” is currently being considered for inclusion in the Federal Economic Stimulus Package. But, whether it is or not, in this form or another, at this time or later, I think it offers a good illustration (one of many out there for those who are looking) of the sorts of changes on the horizon.

The proposal is intended to stimulate the economy and benefit the environment by enacting a surcharge for all waste disposed of in landfills or incinerators.  The funds collected could then be applied to support reuse, recycling and composting.

It goes without saying that anything remotely along these lines would dramatically affect the long term cost of a 1,500 tons per day mass burn incinerator, such as the one currently being considered for Frederick County – making a bad investment that much worse.

 

 

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News Release                                          

Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee
For Immediate Release                                                 
January 20, 2009                                       

Ann Schneider
650-697-6249
Ann.Schneider@sierraclub.org
www.sierraclub.org/committees/zerowaste/

 

Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee Recommends
Zero Waste and Green Jobs Challenge

As a Recommendation for Federal Economic Stimulus 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 16, 2009) – The Sierra Club national Zero Waste Committee today released an innovative recommendation for the Federal Economic Stimulus Package.  The Committee urges the Federal government to issue a Zero Waste Challenge for communities and businesses to adopt a Zero Waste plan, and undertake specific projects to reach waste reduction goals.  The proposal includes a “Green Jobs Surcharge on Waste Disposal” as a funding mechanism and economic stimulus for Zero Waste. 

 “This Sierra Club Zero Waste and Green Jobs Proposal recognizes Zero Waste as one of the fastest and most cost effective ways that local governments can contribute to reducing climate change,” said Ann Schneider, a leader of the Club’s Zero Waste Committee. “A shift from traditional waste practices to Zero Waste can also be a significant economic stimulus to recharge the American economy.  Recycling materials can create ten times the number of jobs as land filling those materials.” 

Zero Waste focuses on reducing waste and reusing products, then recycling and composting the rest.  A key component of Zero Waste is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

“Many European nations have adopted significant fees on landfills of $20-40/ton to fund recycling programs and reduce greenhouse gases”, said Schneider. “This proposal recommends that the Federal government adopt a national $20-40/ton Green Jobs Waste Surcharge on landfills and incinerators to help fund Zero Waste programs and contribute a new revenue source that would actually help meet the nation’s Climate Change goals at the same time.  This is often referred to as a “sin” tax, much like taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, where the government taxes “bads” to discourage their use at the same time as generating needed revenues.”

“The Green Jobs Surcharge will facilitate the shift to producer responsibility-led, cradle to cradle recycling,” said Bill Sheehan, Vice-Chair of the Zero Waste Committee.  “That will create a lot more jobs in reuse, refurbishment, recycling and composting than in sending those same materials to landfills and incinerators.”

“A surcharge of this amount could generate up to $6.5 billion per year,” said Gary Liss, a member of the Club’s Zero Waste Committee.  “The Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee proposes half of the revenue from the Zero Waste Fee would cover one-time costs of the US Treasury or as the local or state government match for federal economic stimulus projects. The other half of the revenues would be used to support communities and businesses in developing comprehensive Zero Waste programs.”

For more information visit www.sierraclub.org/committees/zerowaste/.  Contact Ann Schneider at 650-697-6249, Ann.Schneider@sierraclub.org; or Gary Liss at 916-652-7850,gary.liss@sierraclub.org.

###


Resolution Adopted by Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee:

Green Jobs Waste Surcharge:
an economic Stimulus for Zero Waste

Many local governments and businesses around the world are recognizing Zero Waste as one of the fastest and most cost effective ways that they can contribute to reducing climate change. The shift from traditional waste practices to Zero Waste can also be part of a broader package of economic stimulus mechanisms to recharge the American economy.

The USEPA acknowledges the link between municipal waste practices and climate change[i] and communities that have adopted a Zero Waste challenge[ii] are leaders in reducing their contribution to climate change. Similarly, businesses that have adopted a Zero Waste challenge[iii] and divert more than 90% of their waste from landfills and incineration have not only achieved environmental benefits but also saved money, reduced their liabilities, and increased their efficiency.[iv]

Sierra Club members can help more communities and businesses throughout the United States realize similar benefits and help restore the American economy by asking the USEPA to expand its Resource Conservation Challenge[v] to include a Zero Waste Challenge.  The new Challenge, issued to both communities and businesses, could be funded with a Green Jobs Waste Surcharge that would act as part of the new administration’s economic stimulus package to build a sustainable economy.

What would the USEPA Zero Waste Challenge do?

For communities, the national Zero Waste Challenge would set a higher bar for waste reduction. The support of the USEPA and the many publications and practical tools on its website would provide a national clearing house to help communities that are ready to aim beyond their current state recycling goals and just need some encouragement to move in that direction.

For businesses, the USEPA can include information about Zero Waste Businesses[vi] as part of its Waste Wise program.[vii] Waste Wise Partners can be encouraged to report waste diversion rates from landfills and incinerators and highlight how they are meeting the goals through Zero Waste Business Principles.[viii]

USEPA and the new Administration could launch this new Zero Waste Challenge by encouraging communities and businesses to take the Challenge by Earth Day 2009.

Funding the Zero Waste Challenge

To link the USEPA Zero Waste Challenge to other important Federal climate change and economic initiatives, the Administration could recommend a national Green Jobs Waste Surcharge as part of its economic stimulus package to build a Green Jobs economy.

In effect, the Green Jobs Surcharge would tax “bads” rather than goods. By raising the cost of wasting, the surcharge would not only create a new pool of funds that could be directed to worthwhile economic activity, but also provide a direct economic incentive to prevent waste.

Many European nations have adopted significant fees on landfills of $20-40/ton to fund recycling programs and reduce greenhouse gases.  Closer to home, in San Jose, California, the combined fees and taxes on landfilling are over $19/ton and that city has one of the highest waste diversion rates in the country.

USEPA could adopt a national $20-40/ton Green Jobs Waste Fee on landfills and incinerators that would be structured as follows:

1.                  The Fee would be levied on all municipal solid wastes and construction and demolition debris disposed of in landfills and incinerators. For the 169 million tons landfilled or incinerated in 2007[ix], this would generate $3.4 to $6.5 billion per year initially.

2.                  The Fee would credit all local fees charged already.  This would level the playing field, and not encourage wastes to be transferred from one state to another. For example, in San Jose if the federal government enacted a $30/ton fee, San Jose landfills would be levied at $30/ton (ZW Fee) – $19/ton (local fees) = $11/ton paid to the federal government. 

3.         Half of the revenue from the Zero Waste Fee would cover one-time costs of the US Treasury or as the local or state government match for federal economic stimulus projects, structured as follows:

a.         The amount of funds allocated could be proportional to the percentage of materials used in construction projects under the economic stimulus package made of reused, recycled or composted materials.

b.         Because these funds will decrease over time as the amount of wastes decreases to landfills, they should be used only for these one-time expenses.

4.         The other half of the revenues from the Fee would support communities and businesses in developing comprehensive Zero Waste programs, including:

a.         Policy: support for the development of Zero Waste resolutions, policies, incentives, plans and ordinances that facilitate the shift from landfills and incinerators at public expense to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and local Green Jobs;

b.         Technical assistance, education and training: certification and training programs, peer matching and consulting assistance, community based social marketing, and engagement of colleges and universities to develop curricula and classes, compile and analyze data and train students to enter the Zero Waste field.

c.         Start up costs: planning, engineering, permitting, siting, land acquisition, equipment and construction for the capitalization of local Zero Waste businesses that create local jobs while reducing climate change, including:

i.          Reuse and repair facilities
ii.         Recycling facilities
iii.        Composting facilities
iv.        Resource Recovery Parks
v.          Anaerobic digestion
vi.         Market development activities for reuse, recycling and composting such as support for planning for and implementation of recycled content legislation for discarded products.

——————

 

[i] http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/calculators/Warm_home.html
[ii] Including: Los Angeles; Seattle; San Francisco; San Jose; Austin, TX; Telluride, CO; Logan County OH and Central Vermont Waste Management District
[iii] Including: Toyota; Hewlett Packard; Pillsbury; Xerox; Ricoh Electronics; Fetzer Vineyard; Mad River Brewing Company; Scoma’s Restaurant (San Francisco) and 2800 businesses in Japan.
[iv] As documented at http://www.grrn.org/zerowaste/business/profiles.php andhttp://www.earthresource.org/zerowaste.html

The return of the NO INCINERATOR signs!

Posted in Frederick County BOCC, Incinerator (WTE) with tags , , on January 30, 2009 by Kai Hagen

noincinyardsigncropweb

 

The following is an email that I sent out to a few hundred people this afternoon, with some additional comments below it.

———-

Warm greetings on a cold day.

If you are receiving this, you’re probably among the hundreds of people who placed “NO INCINERATOR” signs in your yards or windows.

First of all: Thank you for that!

It may seem like a small thing, but there’s no question that the signs had value in a number of ways. Among them:

• In the face of too many statements by some that serious concerns about the process and/or opposition to the incinerator was only being expressed by a handful of vocal activists, the signs clearly helped make the point that concern and opposition was much more widespread than that.

• The signs definitely help increase overall awareness and discussion about the subject. More than a few people have become involved in the process who first became engaged in the issue after seeing the signs, and I assume I’m only personally aware of a fraction of those who have asked questions and discussed the issue with friends and neighbors after the signs brought it to their attention.

It been quite a while since the signs first started appearing. And some of them are still out there. But for a variety of reasons, they’ve been gradually diminishing in number. More than a few have simply been stolen. Some have been beaten to a pulp by the wind and other weather. And quite a few, I imagine, were taken in just because people didn’t intend for them to be come a permanent lawn ornament.

Unfortunately, and to my surprise, it has been suggested that many of them aren’t up any more because the folks who had them have been convinced by arguments supporting the incinerator, and have changed their minds!  One county commissioner even suggested as much in a conversation about the signs.

While I would never suggest that isn’t true for some people, I am confident it isn’t true for most. In fact, as measured by a number of other things, my experience has been that overall concerns about the process and/or opposition to the incinerator has expanded consistently and considerably. (Which would be consistent with how things have played out in every community that has faced similar proposals over the last 15 years – the more people learn, about the real costs, risks and alternatives, and so on, the stronger the concerns and opposition.)

So…

Because the process has reached a critical point, with significant meetings and hearings scheduled in the next few weeks (I will be sending a separate email, to a larger list, explaining that, with links to additional information), I’d like to encourage you to:

1) Put your “NO INCINERATOR” sign back out in your yard or window now, if you still have one (that’s in decent condition), or…

2) Let me know that you need a replacement (and, if so, whether that means just the sign part or the sign and metal frame, together).

Thank you very much for displaying the sign in the first place. And thank you in advance to those who are willing to do so again…or still.

kai

PS: Obviously, the ground is icebound and frozen at the moment. But this is Maryland! It can’t last very long.

———-

Since I sent that email a couple of hours ago, I’ve already received almost 30 replies. So far, four people responded that they still have a sign up and in decent condition. Many were stolen. Many were blown away or weather beaten. And all of those folks asked for a replacement sign.

Not surprisingly, the emails included a number of other comments and questions about the status of the incinerator proposal. Here’s a few excerpts of the some of the emails below (with names and email addresses removed):

———-

“I had a sign up but it apparently was stolen.  I would like a new one to express my outrage about the incinerator.”

” I had one of the MIA signs- not really sure what happened to it.  I would love to have another one.”

“Mine isn’t up because it has been stolen…..THREE TIMES!!!!”

“I have been putting my back together when it falls off, but it is probably time for a new paper part.”

“I need a replacement. I get a lot of foot traffic past my house and it has (obviously) been a target of local vandals.”

“Our sign blew away. So, we would need sign and frame again.”

“Someone ran over and trashed my sign, along with the Obama sign I had put out. Please send me a replacement; two if you can.”

“I had my sign blown away by the wind two weeks ago.  I would love to have another one.”

“My sign disappeared a while ago.  I presume someone took it.  I would appreciate a replacement.”

“My sign rusted so badly I had to get rid of it. Please send another.”

“I’m happy to tell you my sign is still doing it’s job, little the worse for wear, on Edgemont Road! I appreciate your email, thank you.”

“Ours is still in our window.  Thanks for all that you are doing.”

Appearance on WFMD about the new single stream recycling program

Posted in Environment_local_regional, Frederick County BOCC, Incinerator (WTE) with tags , , , on January 16, 2009 by Kai Hagen

I was invited to speak with Bob Miller today, during his regular morning radio program on WFMD, the “Morning News Express.”

The primary subject of the conversation was Frederick County’s new single stream recycling program (along with a few general recycling matters, and a brief exchange about the proposed “Waste-to-Energy” incinerator).

If you’d like to listen, go to http://www.wfmd.com/cc-common/podcast.html and scroll to “County Commissioner Kai Hagen talked with Bob about the counties single stream recycling program.”

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Carroll County Times: Incinerator decision should be made in January

Posted in Environment_local_regional, Frederick County BOCC, Incinerator (WTE), News_local_regional with tags , , on December 19, 2008 by Kai Hagen

The following article was published in the Carroll County Times today.

For those of you who are less familiar with the incinerator debate in Frederick County, the current proposal (which I do not support) is to construct a 1,500 tons per day facility, in Frederick County, that would serve both Frederick County and Carroll County (our neighbor to the east). The costs and utilization would be split on 60/40 basis (with Frederick County being the 60% partner).

—————————

http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/articles/2008/12/19/news/local_news/newsstory9.txt

Carroll County Times
Friday, December 19, 2008

By Carrie Ann Knauer, Times Staff Writer

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners can expect to have a service contract with a vendor to operate a proposed bi-county waste-to-energy incinerator in late January, County Public Works Director Mike Evans said Thursday.

The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority received best and final offers on Dec. 4 from two companies competing to build and operate a 1,500-ton per day capacity waste-to-energy incinerator that would be shared by Carroll and Frederick counties.

Evans told the commissioners Thursday that the plans that were submitted are still being changed daily, and that the authority is waiting until the numbers are finalized to bring the plans forward to the counties.

Evans said the service contract should be finalized relatively soon, and then will be sent to the Frederick County Board of Commissioners. The Frederick board will then have the option to approve the contract, and could author-ize the vendor to go forward with engineering and permitting, subject to Carroll County’s board approving the contract.

The engineering and permitting process is expected to take 15 months, Evans said, and then each county will have to make one last decision before the sale of bonds to fund the project.

Commissioner Dean Minnich expressed concerns about how the cost of the project, which was expected to be a total of $350 million last year, is likely to change due to the country’s economic situation.

Evans said that the authority does not predict a change in the profits the incinerator would be able to make through the production of electricity from burning the waste, and that the costs for disposing of waste should re-main fairly steady over the 30-year term while the counties are paying off the construction of the incinerator.

The authority is also working on a memorandum of understanding that will set the conditions for the long term relationship between Carroll, Frederick and the authority for the operation of the incinerator, Evans said. The memorandum establishes a 40/60 relationship between the two counties, with Carroll being the smaller side, based on the amount of waste each side is expected to bring to the incinerator. This agreement should also be finalized in January, he said.

Reach staff writer Carrie Ann Knauer at 410-857-7874 or carrie.knauer@carrollcountytimes.com.

FNP Editorial: Right vs Rush

Posted in Frederick County BOCC, Incinerator (WTE), News_local_regional with tags , on December 15, 2008 by Kai Hagen

The Frederick News Post published the following editorial last Thursday. In their reference to my November 18th presentation, I would have liked to see a bit more emphasis on the alternative I proposed, and the serious economic risks associated with a decades-long commitment to an over-sized “waste-to-energy” facility.

Nevertheless, with so much focus on the financial uncertainties and risks the last few months, it was good to see another call for a serious “risk assessment,” and a thoughtful reminder of the public health and environmental concerns, which are too often dismissed outright with a reference to current EPA standards.

—————————

Right vs Rush

Frederick News Post
Editorial
December 11, 2008

The issue that’s brought “No Incinerator” signs to the front yards of numerous Frederick residences has also brought national attention to states like ours that are grappling with the pros and cons of building waste-to-energy plants.

Investigating the topic in its Dec. 6-7 issue, The Wall Street Journal looked at controversies surrounding combustion-based waste treatment options by observing that “opposition has cropped up against proposals in California, Maryland and elsewhere.”

It seems we are not alone. Not so, for Kai Hagen.

He’s the only Frederick County commissioner opposed to the idea of building a WTE incinerator in Frederick, recently developing a PowerPoint presentation to elucidate his stance and outline alternatives. A Nov. 19 News-Post story said an audience of “about 100 people” gathered for the show, coming as it did on the cusp of the review of the two final incinerator-build bids which, at that time, commissioners expected to have before the board by the end of the year. Estimated expenditure: $350 million.

Hagen articulated multiple criticisms of the “uncertain assumptions” being made by the pro-incinerator-leaning board. One involves population growth and per-household trash production predictions. The other hinges on questions surrounding future environmental regulations, meaning those likely to be enacted down the road.

Face it, regardless of how “attractive” the idea of waste-incineration-energy-recovery seems, it must be implemented with negative human health and environment impacts. Period. A seriously tall order in light of one Earthjustice spokesman’s observation: “There’s really a toxic soup that comes out of incinerators.”

As it turns out, Hagen’s “we don’t know” regarding future environmental requirements is accompanied by the “we can’t say” implication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent actions — the very agency upon which we’d be relying for WTE emissions guidelines. Seems the EPA now is reviewing the 13-year-old standards it applies to WTE plants and, which environmentalists assert, are “way less protective” than those mandated by the Clean Air Act.

How can that be? We trust the EPA will answer that question, rectify and strengthen its WTE environmental protection standards, and let the rest of us in on it.

The upshot of Hagen’s PowerPoint presentation was the commissioners’ request that Hagen draft a study proposal that includes the WTE risk assessment he had requested. That should take a while, and the commissioners don’t seem to be champing at the bit to make an incinerator decision any time soon. Not only is that OK, it’s appropriate.

Understanding the risk-reward trade-offs in this situation is critical. Hagen got it right when he said: “It is more important to make the right decision than a rush decision.” His audience got it right, too.

They applauded.