Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Biomass update: Ian Bowles must think we're idiots

Tonight members of Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield (STIS) are giving a presentation to Councilor Jimmy Ferrera's Green Cities Initiative Committee.  It may seem like not much is happening on the "biomass" front, but we want to keep spreading the word and keep building opposition to this incinerator.  I think we're in the "calm  before the storm" period.

Last December, at the Department of Environmental Protection's air permit hearing for Palmer Renewable Energy's proposed incinerator,  Springfield residents packed Kennedy Middle School to say "NO!" to the proposal.  I actually thought PRE owners would get their permit, and then we'd have to battle this out in court, but instead, Secretary Ian Bowles of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced that permits for C&D burning incinerators-- the Springfield plant and one in Somerset-- would be suspended pending a study on the plants' impact on our communities' health.

I've kept in touch with the state to find out when this study would begin, and although we're getting closer, there's still no firm date.  What I do know is that when DEP and the Department of Public Health finish defining the "scope of work" of the study, they will hold a meeting in Springfield where we can have input into the scope of work plan-- at least we're told we can have input.  We'll have to see what happens, but once we know the date for this meeting, we'll make sure residents of Springfield know about it, also.

But just how legitimate is this study going to be?  I'm certainly hoping for the best, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure the study is thorough and fair, but apparently Secretary Bowles doesn't think our concerns about our community's health are real.  Yesterday he was quoted in a New York Times in "waste-to-energy" plants in Europe.

“Europe has gotten out ahead with this newest technology,” said Ian A. Bowles, a former Clinton administration official who is now the Massachusetts state secretary of energy.

Still, Mr. Bowles said that as America’s current landfills topped out and pressure to reduce heat-trapping gases grew, Massachusetts and some other states were “actively considering” new waste-to-energy proposals; several existing plants are being expanded. He said he expected resistance all the same in a place where even a wind turbine sets off protests. 
 Hey, I'll take a wind turbine anytime over the toxic incinerator that Bowles initially promoted and approved.  But we weren't given that option, were we?

Check out the article.  I don't know much about the technology Europe is using (guess I'll have to find out!) but here's what I do know:  the technology PRE is proposing is light years behind the European plants, and the countries profiled in this article recycle everything that can be recycled before incinerating anything-- very far very far from being the case in this country OR in this city.  Shouldn't we be doing that first before we even think about burning trash?

Photo from zaskem's photostream at Flickr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't feel like Mr. Bowles is committed to protecting our environment in Massachusetts. I seriously question if he should retain control of the state agency charged with that function.

Perhaps his retention of this important responsibility should be broadly discussed now, before the election.