“Zero Waste” or more polluting, carbon-belching incineration??

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“Zero Waste” or more polluting, carbon-belching incineration??

Decisions have consequences.  Minneapolis people in the 1980s put up a strong fight against building the HERC garbage burner in Minneapolis.  They lost, and got decades of polluted air, inflated bills, and a recycling rate of 17 percent.  It was an expensive loss.  This is finally turning around, we think, but only because over the last few years people put up a strong fight against expanded burning at the HERC.

Or, consider the mess St. Paul neighborhoods would be in if Neighbors Against the Burner (NAB) hadn’t stopped a waste burner at Rock-Tenn.

Or the health consequences if a “biomass” burner had not been stopped in North Minneapolis, and then in Rockford.  T

Now, Ramsey/Washington counties and St. Paul face another turning point.  Do they go for waste prevention and enhanced recycling (“Zero Waste”) or for more incineration??  The joint powers board that manages garbage for Ramsey and Washington counties has long ago made its decision:  More burning!  County officials want to buy a privately owned garbage grinder in Newport–originally built by Northern States Power Company–so they can force all the haulers in the two counties to haul there at whatever cost the counties care to charge.

The ground-up garbage is then hauled to Red Wing (36 miles) and Mankato (89 miles) for incineration in old 1940s coal plants with lax, expired permits, a true “bad neighbor policy.”  Less than five percent is removed for recycling.

Counties directly impacted by the emissions include Goodhue, Pierce (WI), Nicollet, Blue Earth, and LeSeur.

This very expensive and polluting system has been operating for close to thirty years.  Why expand it now without considering healthier alternatives?

The up-front cost would be over $24 million and 73% would be financed by Ramsey County “general obligation” bonds, meaning residents would be on the hook if things didn’t work out.  This would be in addition to the 70% (business) and 38% (residential) surcharges Ramsey County residents already pay on their garbage bills. and the counties would be committed to more decades of non-progress on waste.

As another example of the “waste” here, the joint powers board has budgeted over $1.8 million for 2015 for “policy evaluation” (=putting the deal together), including $790,000 for “legal services,” $512,000 for “engineering services,” and $120,000 for “communications consultant.” (Perhaps this last helps explain the limited media coverage?)

And, in spite of all this supposed “policy evaluation,” the county commissioners have ignored non-burn, “zero waste” alternatives.  The term “zero waste” does not seem to occur anywhere on the “resource recovery project” website!

A vote on this purchase is scheduled for Aug. 27th.  The meeting is currently scheduled at 9:00 a.m. in the Conference Center, Plato Building 90 West Plato Boulevard, St. Paul.

Our point, of course, is to persuade, you, dear reader, to TAKE ACTION: 

Call/email these County Commissioner with a message like this:  “Please DO NOT vote to buy the garbage grinder until you have developed a non-burn, “zero waste”  alternative and presented it to the public alongside your burner option.”

Ramsey County District 1 <blake.huffman@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 2 <MaryJo.McGuire@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 3 <janice.rettman@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 4 <Toni.Carter@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 5 <Rafael.E.Ortega@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 6 (Chair) <Jim.McDonough@co.ramsey.mn.us>
Ramsey County District 7 <Victoria.Reinhardt@co.ramsey.mn.us>
(phone for all: 651-266-8350)

Washington County District 1 <fran.miron@co.washington.mn.us>, 651-430-6211
Washington County District 2 <ted.bearth@co.washington.mn.us>, 651-738-2425
Washington County District 3 (Chair) <gary.kriesel@co.washington.mn.us>, 651-430-6213
Washington County District 4 <karla.bigham@co.washington.mn.us>, 651-430-6214
Washington County District 5 <lisa.weik@co.washington.mn.us>, 651-430-6215

If you have a little more to give on this:

The City of St. Paul supposedly has a goal of becoming a “zero waste city.”  If the City is serious about this is should obviously oppose increased incineration.  Please call Council members and tell them so:

St. Paul City Council member Dai Thao <ward1@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8610
St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune <ward2@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8620
St. Paul City Council member Chris Tolbert <ward3@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8630
St. Paul City Council President Russ Stark <ward4@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8640
St. Paul City Council member Amy Brendmoen <ward5@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8650
St. Paul City Council member Dan Bostrom <ward6@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8660
St. Paul City Council member Bill Finney <ward7@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, 651-266-8670
St. Paul Mayor Christopher B. Coleman <Nancy.Homans@ci.stpaul.mn.us>, (651) 266-8510

Background information:

The link to our  previous Alert is here:  https://alanmuller.com/garbage-action-alert/

Info from Washington County Watchdog:  http://wcwatchdog.blogspot.com/

Eureka Recycling:                       http://www.eurekarecycling.org/

Thanks for what you do!

Alan Muller
Nancy Hone

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2 Responses to “Zero Waste” or more polluting, carbon-belching incineration??

  1. Matt Behning August 22, 2015 at 01:22 #

    Spot on analysis of this issue! The buyout is bad for the environment AND bad for the tax payers having to fund the (at least) $170 million dollar plan. Thanks for the coverage of this important topic.

    Please everyone contact the local leaders above about this.

    -Matt Behning
    Editor of Washington County Watchdog

    Please check out my three part series covering this:

    http://www.wcwatchdog.com/front-and-center.html

  2. alan August 22, 2015 at 10:09 #

    Thanks, Matt. I think these county commissioners making up the “joint powers board” are behaving with a great deal of arrogance and sense of entitlement. Entitlement to ignore the lungs and pocketbooks of the people they were supposedly elected to represent…..

    This can only be turned around be public outcry. We can present the facts but people have to use them and speak out.

    am

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