2014 has been a great year for stopping polluters, especially biomass and waste incinerators, as the articles below show. We're also very excited to be seeing so many nuclear reactors announcing closure: 5 of 104 announced closure since last year, and at least 14 more are at risk of closure--unless Obama's climate plan manages to put them on financial life support, as it aims to.
Some of the successes we've had recently were helped with our custom-designed online action alert system for local campaigns, a new resource for Network members. Being disillusioned with the pitfalls of Change.org, MoveOn and other online petition tools, we built our own. It allows you to target one or more email addresses with a pre-set message that you write, which can also have links to documentation. It's most effective for targeting local officials who aren't used to getting tons of online petitions. It's also useful for getting people to sign on to your comments to environmental agencies.
If you'd like to join Energy Justice Network and set up your own action alert, we can share the contact info of the responders with your local group. Our only expectation is that we also hold onto those contacts to be able to share things like this wonderful newsletter. Unlike most online actions, we’re using online tools to turn real people out to our meetings and to city hall and building our volunteer base.
2014 a Banner Year for Victories
- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
This is the year for victories against biomass and waste incinerators. We've tracked 45 victories by those in our network since 2010, but this year we've already seen seven victories, plus a victory against a proposed gas-fired power plant and two state-level policy victories. We're proud to have contributed in small (and sometimes not so small) ways to the great grassroots work that resulted in each.
White Deer, Pennsylvania: Proposed tire incinerator stopped by grassroots leaders with Organizations United for the Environment and the Tire Burner Team who we've supported since 2011.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Trash incinerator expansion blocked by grassroots activists we've supported.
North Springfield, Vermont: Biomass power incinerator stopped by North Springfield Action Group, a grassroots group we helped launch an opposition campaign.
Bristol Township, Pennsylvania: Proposed hazardous waste incinerator stopped after we testified to expose corporate misinformation, and supported grassroots and political opponents who reached out to us in late 2013.
North Las Vegas, Nevada: Gigantic plan for a construction and demolition gasification incinerator stopped by our biomass network members, Citizens of North Las Vegas United.
Port Townsend, Washington: Paper mill's plan for the expansion of a biomass incinerator stopped by our biomass network members, Port Townsend Air Watchers and No Biomass Burn.
Jasper, Indiana: Biomass incinerator to burn Miscanthus grass stopped by our biomass network members, Healthy Dubois County.
Newark, Delaware: A natural gas power plant (disguised as a data center at the University of Delaware) was stopped by the Newark Residents Against the Power Plant group we helped train.
Lorton, Virginia: A construction/demolition waste landfill expansion was defeated by the Citizens to Stop the Dump and South County Federation. We helped a bit, going door-to-door in the community that is also overshadowed by the 4th largest trash incinerator in the U.S. and surrounded by two other landfills. We brought in experts on zero waste to speak about alternatives for recycling those valuable materials.
Maryland: Working with the Zero Waste Maryland coalition and other allies, we helped stop legislation for a second year in a row that would have put Maryland on the path to burning nearly all of its waste that is not recycled. We also commented on several other compromised energy bills, none of which passed.
Washington, DC: Washington, DC city government passed two major waste laws we worked on, banning Styrofoam, instituting curbside composting, requiring the city to adopt a zero waste plan, starting electronic waste recycling, and much more to move the nation's capitol toward zero waste!
Derailing NYC Trash Train Plan in Chester, PA
- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
We've been supporting the Chester Environmental Justice group to "derail" plans to send 500,000 tons/year of trash from the richest part of New York City by train to be burned in the low-income, 75% black City of Chester, near Philadelphia, PA. The plan would fulfill a contract Covanta has with New York City to burn this waste for the next 20-30 years. That contract would send an equal amount to Covanta's Niagara Falls, NY incinerator, where people are fighting the trash-by-trail plan as well (see stopburningthefalls.com/myths/). Chester hosts the nation's largest trash incinerator, burning up to 3,510 tons/day, and residents have had enough.
We just won a vote of the Chester City Planning Commission on July 11th, 2014, when we got them to vote "NO" on Covanta's proposal for a rail box building to store the rail cars of trash. It'll go to City Council next, and we'll be cranking up the pressure to get them to follow the Planning Commission's advice.
With about 100 people turning out, standing-room-only, we packed the place and made a strong impact. We also had 100 people email the local officials leading up to the meeting. We demanded that the Chester Planning Commission recommend that City Council vote "NO" on Covanta's NYC trash-by-train proposal. See ejnet.org/chester/ for background info and a copy of our presentation.
Vermont Yankee: Out of the Fission and Into the Fire?
- by Ann Darling, Safe and Green Campaign
The Vermont Yankee nuclear power station in southeastern Vermont will close in December of this year after operating for over 40 years. As a member of the Safe and Green Campaign, which is made up of activists who live close to the nuke and whose homeland is the most in harm’s way, I have witnessed some pretty dirty tactics to keep this particular form of dirty energy going.
The litany of problems and deceit seemed never to end – a transformer fire, rotted cooling towers flooding the site with water, tritium leaks, lies under oath, multiple lawsuits, regulatory complicity and deafness, the silencing of the Vermont legislature, state inaction on the heating of the Connecticut River, bargaining in back rooms with the Governor to make a deal with an acknowledged devil (Entergy), the challenge to democracy embodied in federal law that says only “experts” can understand or address nuclear safety issues. And that’s not all, by far.
Now there’s a proposal to use the Vermont Yankee site for biomass with a tie in to a natural gas pipeline that’s trying to go through just south in Massachusetts. Lots of people are jumping at this like it’s actually the answer to everything. After all, there are heavy duty transmission lines there, a railroad running right by the front gates, a well-established lumber industry, a river, an interstate.
For four decades we’ve been living with the insanity of boiling water with radioactivity to generate electricity. We don’t think replacing that by burning biomass and emitting particulates and greenhouse gases, pressuring our beautiful forests, and burning more fracked gas makes any more sense than nuclear. As my friend Leslie said, “Bye-bye locally grown, truly green energy development. Hello, huge facility owned by yet another conglomerate of corporate investors.”
Energy Justice Now
will provide critical reporting on the entire spectrum of the dirty
energy resistance, highlighting the voices of community organizers
battling fossil fuels, nuclear power, and biomass and waste incineration
from sea to shining sea. We are accepting submissions at Josh
Cover photo by: Minnesota North Star Chapter Sierra Club
Mike Ewall, Josh Schlossberg, and Samantha Chirillo
Editors, Energy Justice Now
Donate here (please & thanks!): http://www.energyjustice.net/donate
Logo by Alex Zahradnik Design
Tell EPA Not to Weaken Radiation Protections
At a time when the Environmental Protection Agency ought to be strengthening their weak and unenforced radiation protection standards, EPA wants to weaken them significantly.
Please help us urge EPA to revisit this rule and stop treating radiation as a privileged pollutant by signing the letter below.
Comments are due by midnight on August 3rd.
Sign on here.
In a local anti-incinerator struggle, we recently promoted an action alert with a catchy meme on Facebook. A couple hundred people - many of whom had been strangers to us - responded to it. We now have their real contact info, so we can contact them outside of Facebook, add them to our email list, and invite them to local meetings and update them on local group activities.
While we hate to advocate paying Facebook, we've found it valuable to use strategically in a local fight. If you have a FB page for your group, you can gain a number of “Likes” but those fans aren't easy to reach because you can't see their profiles and interact directly unless you “Friend” them, and any post to your page might be seen by just 10-20% of your fans unless you pay to promote your post or page. This is an awful long-term strategy, since it means constantly paying to reach your fans. However, promoting your page, or events when you need to turn people out, can bolster numbers.
Combining a Facebook promotion with our action alert system allows you to gather real contact info so you can then email them directly and not have to pay to make sure you reach your followers.
We've added several items to our incineration webpage, including pages on how trash incineration is more polluting than coal and is the most expensive way to manage waste or to make energy. We added a chart showing the decline in the number of operating incinerators in the U.S., a list of all commercial trash incinerators in the U.S. by size, and a page explaining to journalists and activists that incinerators are NOT "waste-to-energy"facilities.
On the solutions side, we've added a new resources page on zero waste, including a detailed zero waste hierarchy. We've also added links to studies on our Clean Energy Solutions page.
To understand the energy industry at large, we've updated our U.S. Energy Price Trends page to include relative costs of different types of electric production and put together a page with the latest EPA data on CO2, SO2 and NOx Emissions from U.S. Electric Power Plants, so you can see how they compare.
On climate impacts, we have extensive documentation on the climate impacts of biomass incineration and on how biofuels may be worse for the climate than petroleum (which is still plenty bad). Our natural gas page has a compilation of the latest science on methane's global warming impacts, and we have a new page up on how Enhanced Oil Recovery is not carbon sequestration. We've pulled together links to all of the major resources on why burning landfill gas for energy is a bad idea and now have our sign-on letter to EPA objecting to their CO2 rule for new power plants archived.
Energy Justice Network Email Lists
Energy Justice Network hosts seven different email lists
each focused on opposing a particular form of dirty energy, from
Nuclear, to Natural Gas, to Coal, to Biomass/Waste Incineration, to
Ethanol, to Tire Burning, to Power Lines.
To sign up for any (or all) of the lists, send an email to
energyjustice.net, specifying in the email subject
which list you’d like to join and we’ll be in touch!