VICTORY: Hazardous Waste Incinerator Defeated in Bucks County, PA

A politically-connected new company hoped to sneak an application through during the holidays for a 60 ton/day hazardous waste incinerator in Bristol Township, near Philadelphia, PA. Once word got out late last year, political opposition grew fast and furious. People packed local government meetings to overflowing.

Energy Justice director, Mike Ewall, who grew up in the adjacent township, presented at a packed local zoning board hearing last month, following the company's 2-hour presentation, tearing down the company's misinformation. One of the most appalling aspects of their misinformation was their presentation of (extremely low) projected air emissions, which represented only the emissions from the small amount of natural gas they'd burn to start the burners up, without presenting any data on the pollutants from burning the waste itself.

The incinerator would have burned alcohols and solvents, cleaners, paints, medicines and pharmaceuticals, aerosols, pesticides, herbicides and adhesives. It would have been located right next to a Dow Chemical plant, in a community already suffering from decades of chemical pollution.

Local politicians were falling over themselves to oppose it, and neighboring local governments, including those across the river in New Jersey, took positions opposed to the incinerator. Today, the company chose to withdraw their application for a zoning change. With the political winds against this company in all of the neighboring towns, it seems that this heavily industrialized corridor is saying "enough is enough" and is sending this incinerator proposal packing in short order. We will continue to work with local activists to ensure that local clean air ordinances are in place to protect these towns from any future proposals for incinerators.

Special thanks to Don Mobley, whose local political efforts made all the difference.  While the company is talking like they might come back with a new application, it's clear that they have nothing to come back to but an even more organized community and to local politicians who want nothing of it.  As we prepare the nails for the coffin of this short-lived incinerator proposal, it's clear that it's already dead on arrival.

See news articles on this on our mapping site's page for this facility.

This is our third major incinerator victory of 2014, and many more are expected this year.

VICTORY: Environmental Justice and Zero Waste Win over Increased Trash Burning in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis residents have just stopped the planned expansion of the trash incinerator in their city, and have set their county on the path to zero waste! The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC), is capable of burning 1,212 tons of trash a day, but has been limited by permits to burning 1,000 tons/day. The county has been seeking to expand this to burn the full 1,212 tons/day, but just withdrew their request under pressure from the community.

Community organizers made this a defining issue in recent elections and shifted the political climate, getting a majority of Minneapolis City Council and the mayor to oppose the expansion. The county is now moving toward zero waste, with a requirement to start curb-side collection of organics for composting. This new path has some city officials already talking about eventually closing the 25-year old incinerator for good.

Congratulations to Lara Norkus-Crampton RN (Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air), Karen Monahan (Sierra Club), Nancy Hone (Neighbors Against the Burner), Alan Muller, Josh Winter (MPIRG), State Rep. Frank Hornstein, Congressman Keith Ellison, Neighbors Organized for Change, and other community leaders who made this victory possible.

Energy Justice played a small role, visiting with local activists last year and supporting them with information, including research showing that this incinerator has the 3rd worst racial disparity in the industry.

This is incinerator victory #2 for 2014, following the last month's victory against the tire incinerator in White Deer, PA. Many more to follow. Stay tuned!

For more info on this victory, see:

Obama's New Year's Resolution? More Fracking.

The 2014 US Climate Action Report to the United Nations is out. The official line from the White House is celebrating how the US is going to meet the 2009 Copenhagen greenhouse gas emissions commitment. However, we read the fine print and here is Barack Obama's fracking plan for electricity generation in 2020:

"Natural gas-fired plants account for 44 percent of capacity additions from 2012 through 2020 in the 2012 policy baseline scenario," from the report.

This is not a happy day if you live in the shalefields, where we've always been just a sacrifice zone for this president. Coal and nuclear generation are also planned for an increase, not decrease. Here's the link to the report. (PDF)

What's your New Year's resolution?

Alex Lotorto is Energy Justice Network's Campus and Community Organizer

Mapping Race and Income - JusticeMap.org (BETA)

JusticeMap.org (BETA) is an exciting new initiative to map race and income at a very high level of resolution for the entire United States. We're using data from the 2010 Census (race) and American Community Survey (income) and some software (TileMill) to create a series of map layers. The project is supported by the Sunlight Foundation.

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(Percent Hispanic, by county)