Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No biomass! Another ally

Last night Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield members were on the agenda of the Green City Initiatives Committee chaired by Councilor Ferrera, and the meeting was more productive than I expected-- after Mary Booth's presentation and after a number of questions and answers, a committee member made a motion to oppose Palmer Renewable Energy's proposed incinerator and it passed with one abstention and none opposed. 

One irony in the situation is that Councilor Ferrera had originally voted in favor of PRE's receiving their needed zone change permit back in September, 2008.  I wasn't inclined to bring that up last night as it  seemed ungracious given this new opportunity to win an ally, and I certainly am glad he's changed his mind.  A STIS member in the audience did bring it up, however, and Councilor Ferrera said pretty much what I'd expect him (and the other councilors who voted in favor of PRE ) to say: the application met all the requirements to receive a permit, so........the unspoken explanation being that he had no choice, his hands were tied, etc.  Somehow that didn't stop  former Councilors Pat Markey and Rosemary Mazza-Moriarty from voting against it, and Bruce Stebbins abstained.  (I don't understand abstentions.)

STIS recently paid for a tape of the city council meeting where PRE's zone change was approved, but only a couple of people have had a chance to watch it so far.  If I had to guess, I'd put the city council decision down to the simple fact that business people have more weight in the eyes of elected officials than regular people do.  I've come to know many of the regular people who spoke against the proposal  to city council back then, and they were already pretty knowledgeable about biomass-- more than they'd ever thought they'd be.  And since then we've learned a lot more.

Given the weight that relationships between people with power carry, the only antidote is for more and more of us to understand, to speak out, and to organize to make sure our voices are heard.

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