- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
While Energy Justice Network's work is mainly focused on helping you win grassroots victories, we've had to weigh in on some state and national policies that would have major consequences for how many bad ideas need to be fought. Misguided policies aiming to limit coal or climate pollution continue to push (fracked) gas and biomass/waste incineration as false solutions. We encourage you to look over some of the well-documented comments we put together and to borrow from them in your own work, as needed.
EPA's CO2 Rule for New Fossil Fuel Power Plants: thank you to the nearly 600 of you who responded to our action alert in May, telling EPA that loopholes for "clean coal" / carbon sequestration, natural gas, biomass and waste incineration are unacceptable!
Department of Energy Subsidies for Incinerators: a Solyndra-related program to provide billions in loan guarantees to renewable energy and energy efficiency would subsidize trash and biomass incinerators and biofuels, even though the program is required to fund only technologies that reduce greenhouse gases. These technologies are among the worst greenhouse gas emitters! Within just six days, over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend, we pulled together 131 groups on a sign-on letter challenging this, including about 100 grassroots or state/regional groups from 27 states plus DC and Puerto Rico as well as about 30 national / international groups, including some of the big greens: Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club.
COMING UP: EPA's CO2 Rule for Existing Fossil Fuel Power Plants: this rule just came out this week, and is riddled with loopholes as we expected. We're concerned that this rule does far too little (nearly 2/3rds of the reductions required by 2020 over 2005 emissions levels were already accomplished without any rule!), and that it could do more harm than good by encouraging a switch from coal to fuels more polluting than coal for the climate, like natural gas and biomass/waste incineration. Biomass is 50% worse than coal for the climate; trash incineration 2.5 times worse.
The plan also would keep open risky and dangerous old nuclear power plants that the industry recently decided it wants to close, and subsidize the building of new reactors, sucking up the money we need for a genuine transition to clean energy. Coal is already on the decline without a CO2 rule due to activism and geology (we've used much of it up and the remainder is getting too expensive to extract). This rule is so weak that it'll do less than what would happen anyway, but could make things worse if we don't beat down these false solutions.
EPA's Waste-to-Fuels (WTF) Deregulation: We're working with Earthjustice and the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) to figure out how to stop this dreadful trend to redefine wastes into unregulated "fuels" that can be burned in any of about one million boilers in the nation's industries, schools, hospitals and other businesses.
In the States: We've commented and testified on several flawed energy and waste bills in Maryland that would encourage biomass and waste incineration, none of which passed by the end of this year's session. We've also recently commented on Maryland's incinerator-friendly draft Zero Waste Plan and filed comments on New York's new Energy Plan. Feel free to borrow from our comments in your own advocacy. We're also working with the Washington, DC City Council to ban styrofoam and adopt a zero waste plan that would start curbside composting, make electronic waste recycling more responsible, and end the city's use of incinerators.