Response to Patrick Administration Modifying Incinerator Moratorium

For Immediate Release 12/14/12Stop incinerators

Contacts:

Sylvia Broude 617-747-4407, sylvia@toxicsaction.org (Boston and Amherst offices) Toxics Action Center
Lynne Pledger  lpledger@cleanwater.org (Hardwick home office) Clean Water Action
Janet Domenitz  janet.domenitz@masspirg.org MassPIRG
Dave Dionne (Westport) Clean Air South Coast
Jane Winn  jane@thebeatnews.org (Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)
Michaelanne Bewsee (Springfield) Arise for Social Justice 
Brent Baeslack  Haverhill Environmental League
Kirstie Pecci  Residents for Alternative Trash Solutions (RATS)

For Immediate Release

After four years of deliberation, the Massachusetts Department of Protection (MassDEP) has released a Revised Draft Solid Waste Master Plan. Advocacy groups are not pleased about the lifting of the 23 year old incinerator moratorium as part of the new version.

In a statement from Secretary Richard Sullivan of the Patrick Administration wrote, “MassDEP proposes to modify the moratorium on municipal solid waste combustion to encourage innovative and alternative technologies (e.g., gasification or pyrolysis) for converting municipal solid waste to energy or fuel on a limited basis.” The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has had in place a moratorium on new municipal solid waste combustion facilities since 1990.

Sylvia Broude, Executive Director of Toxics Action Center, a public health and environmental non-profit, called the state’s announcement a huge step backward on progress towards zero waste. “MassDEP’s own taxpayer funded study commissioned by the Tellus Institute in 2008 recommended against lifting the incinerator moratorium,” said Broude. “This recent decision to allow more incineration is not only bad public policy, it’s a mockery of the public process, and it flies in the face of advice from MassDEP’s own consultants. There’s simply no reason to expand capacity to burn or bury when we have so much potential to reduce, reuse, recycle.”  The Tellus Report: http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/priorities/tellusmmr.pdf

"The Administration's announcement reveals an information gap,” said Lynne Pledger, Solid Waste Director at Clean Water Action, “Secretary Sullivan and Commissioner Kimmell were not in office three years ago when DEP reviewed the dismal track record of gasification and the failure of a gasification pilot in our own state to gasify garbage, and decided to move on with waste reduction instead of burning resources."

“In 2009, the Patrick Administration issued a statement called Patrick-Murray Administration Maintains Incinerator Moratorium, Expands Recycling Efforts where they committed to keeping the clamp down on this dirty polluting industry”,said Brent Baeslack from Haverhill Environmental League, “What happened? Do they think they can burn their way out of the failure to follow their own Solid Waste Master Plan?”

Source: http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-pre-p2/pr-2009/patrick-murray-administration-maintains.html

“The DEP called their draft plan 'the path to zero waste,'a goal we embrace. But zero waste has no burning whatsoever,” said Janet Domenitz Director of MassPIRG, “By proposing more burning, DEP is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

“The Patrick administration simply has it wrong to even be considering lifting the moratorium and burning trash,” stated Dave Dionne, a long-time Westport activist and former town official. “The health of the people of the Commonwealth should be the top priority.”  Dionne is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Clean Air, a group that successfully stopped a plan to convert Somerset Station to a plasma gasification process that would have incinerate coal and toxic construction and demolition debris.  

“The Patrick administration needs to provide funding for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to do its job and enforce the current solid waste ban.” said Jane Winn, Executive Director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). “We don’t need more incineration. We need to stop illegal waste disposal. The state has cut environmental funding to the point that the DEP can no longer protect human health or the environment!”

Amy Perlmutter, a Massachusetts consultant in zero waste and clean technologies, says “These technologies are anything but innovative. They have a decades long track record of not working up to their promises and not being built due to their high costs. To take limited resources that should otherwise be recycled- creating jobs and preserving the environment- and turn them into fuel is a waste of time and money.  Communities throughout the country and world have shown that recycling rates of 60-80% are possible. That’s what a real Zero Waste plan would do.”

“When the former Secretary Bowles said in December of 2009 that focusing on incineration and landfills is the wrong end of the waste equation- we applauded” said Michaelann Bewsee from Arise for Social Justice.  “Now,  so much of what is good in this plan is undone by a return to incineration, which is exactly the wrong direction for our state.”: http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-pre-p2/pr-2009/patrick-murray-administration-maintains.html

Kirstie L. Pecci, Esq., of Residents for Alternative Trash Solutions explained that there is no need for additional incinerator capacity.  “If the MassDEP strengthened and enforced the waste bans, all recyclable and compostible materials, at least 80% of the municipal solid waste stream, could be diverted from landfills and incinerators.”  She further explained that the MassDEP has the authority to revise the waste bans under the legislation that already exists.  “Massachusetts would have plenty of disposal capacity if the MassDEP had the guts to do their job.”

Background information

The Solid Waste Master Plan is the Commonwealth's comprehensive, 10-year waste plan required by law. From 2008 to 2010, there were public hearings, thousands of comments, and testimony submitted by hundreds of citizens. On July 2, 2010, the Department of Environmental Protection issued the draft plan. Today, the MassDEP issued the Revised Draft Plan and Appendices and opened for an additional comment period until February 15th, 2013. The change in the Revised Draft Plan, for which MassDEP now seeks comment, is a limited modification of the municipal solid waste combustion moratorium, which is described on pages 46-47 of the Revised Draft Plan. Following completion of this comment period, MassDEP will publish a Final Plan, along with a Final Response to Comments Document.

The Revised Draft Plan and Appendices are available for review on the MassDEP web site at www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/priorities/dswmpu01.htm.  MassDEP will accept comments only on the proposed change to the moratorium in the Revised Draft Plan until 5:00 PM on February 15, 2013.  Comments should be sent to: John Fischer at MassDEP:  via email at dep.swm@state.ma.us  or by mail to John Fischer, MassDEP, One Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108.

The change in the Revised Draft Plan, for which MassDEP now seeks comment, is a limited modification of the municipal solid waste combustion moratorium, which is described on pages 46-47 of the Revised Draft Plan. MassDEP proposes to modify the moratorium on municipal solid waste combustion to encourage innovative and alternative technologies (e.g., gasification or pyrolysis) for converting municipal solid waste to energy or fuel on a limited basis. The moratorium will remain in place for new capacity for traditional combustion of municipal solid waste.  

Other Background:

From the Tellus Report’s Executive Summary, pg. 1:  http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/priorities/tellusmmr.pdf

“Several factors lead us to conclude that gasification and pyrolysis facilities are unlikely to play a major role in MSW management in Massachusetts by 2020. Key issues informing this conclusion include: the lack of experience in the U.S. with large-scale alternative technology facilities successfully processing mixed MSW and generating energy; the long lead times to plan, site, construct, and permit such facilities; the significant capital costs required and the loss of solid waste management flexibility that is associated with the long-term contractual arrangements that such capital-intensive facilities require; and the relatively small benefit with respect to greenhouse gas emissions compared to diversion or landfilling.”