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Source: Politics on the Hudson

Enviros speak out against trash-burning petition


Posted: November 15, 2011
Originally Published: November 15, 2011

Environmental groups are speaking out against a petition by a New Jersey-based company that would allow new trash-burning power plants to receive subsidies through a state renewable energy program.

The state Public Service Commission will vote Thursday whether to include “waste for energy” as a technology included in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which doles out about $250 million a year to renewable energy projects.

The petition was made by Covanta Energy Corp., which operates seven trash-burning facilities in New York, including the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Facility. A similar plant owned by Wheelabrator is located in Peekskill.

The RPS fund is financed by a monthly charge on bills from private utilities, which comes in at around 25 cents per month for individuals.

In a news conference today, environmentalists said the trash-burning plants give off more emissions than coal burning, and that approving Covanta’s request would go against the goals of the program.

“While garbage is abundant, it is not renewable,” said Bill Cooke, government relations director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “This is an opportunity for the (Public Service Commission) to do the right thing.”

“Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, and incinerators are even dirtier,” said Ross Gould, program director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

Covanta’s petition has support from the Independent Power Producers of New York, a trade group, which says the company’s technology is innovative and helps cut down on waste problems. In its original petition, Covanta argues that its technology has improved and has cut down significantly on emissions in recent years.

“Covanta’s cutting-edge technology to process the vast amount of waste our society produces and transform it into energy is an innovative way to reuse refuse for positive environmental gain,” said Gavin Donohue, president of the Independent Power Producers.