Maryland Seeking to Becomes the Nation's Burn-Capitol

Maryland's state legislators are at it for a four year in a row, pushing bills that would increase trash and biomass incineration in their state and region. In 2011, the state became the first, and only, to put trash burning in competition with wind power in its renewable energy mandate. Now, over half of the energy used to meet their renewable energy law is from smokestack technologies.

If you're in Maryland, or can share this with those who are, please help us get groups and individuals signed onto this Environmental Community Statement on Maryland's "Renewable Energy" Bills. The legislative session goes until April 7th, so we have six weeks to make sure that none of these misguided energy and waste bills are passed unless they're significantly cleaned up. Email Mike to get involved.

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.

Race, Class and the proposed Cove Point, Maryland - LNG Terminal

While being a very bad idea, the proposed LNG terminal at Cove Point Maryland does not appear to be a blantant case of race or class based discrimination in its location. 


Methane's Global Warming Potential makes Gas worse than Coal for Climate

We just updated our page on natural gas with links to the latest studies showing that methane is far more potent for global warming than EPA considers it. Next time you're hearing how much natural gas is a transition fuel or that it's better than coal -- or that landfill gas should be burned for energy (which releases more methane than collecting and flaring it!) instead of keeping organics out of landfills -- bust out these studies to show that methane isn't just 21 times worse than CO2... it's 86-105 times worse! That's because we need to look at it over 20 years instead of 100 and account for the latest science showing that it's more potent than we thought, even over the same time frames.

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

Tire Burner Stopped in White Deer, PA!

First major victory of the year... a community we've been supporting since October 2011 to stop a planned tire incinerator just won! In White Deer Township, Union County, Pennsylvania, En-Tire Logistics proposed the White Deer Energy Project, which would have burned tires to power the National Gypsum plant next door. The company pulled out of the project, withdrawing their state permit. See the news here: Tire burner project terminated in Union County. Thanks to Organizations United for the Environment and the Tire Burner Team for their great work on the ground! We'll be working with them to get a local ordinance passed to ensure that this can't ever happen again.

Mapping Race and Income - (BETA) (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.

(Percent Hispanic, by county)

Thanks for the Support!

Our end of the year fundraising drive raised a record $10,000 in donations!

Thanks to everyone for the support and we will be fighting hard for and with you in 2014.

Baltimore students rally against giant waste incinerator

Yesterday, we joined the high school students in Baltimore for their excellent 100-strong march/rally against a plan for the nation's largest waste incinerator, planned by Energy Answers within a mile of their school in one of the nation's most polluted zip codes. It would burn 4,000 tons/day of trash, tires, shredded cars and wood waste, not far from the nation's largest medical waste incinerator and in the same city as the largest of three trash incinerators that already exist in Maryland.

We were joined by 16-year old Kaya Banton (on right in bottom photo) from Chester, PA, home to the largest existing trash incinerator in the U.S. (burning 3,400 tons/day of waste right across the tracks from residential homes).


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