June 20th, 2007
Last night the Neighbors Against the Burner held a meeting at Macalaster, featuring none other than Alan Muller! And no, I didn’t have anything to do with it, they found him independently, serendipitous, eh?
There have been several reports written about the proposal for Rock-Tenn and Minnesota incineration issues that are worth reading.
What Ramsey and Washington Counties want to do:
The MPCA has posted its annual air quality report:
Alan learned from the MPCA website that the MPCA Waste Combustor rules DO NOT MEET THE FEDERAL STANDARDS and must be updated. They “started” this a coon’s age ago yet it’s not even reached the SONAR stage… seems it’s not exactly a high priority. Why?
Be sure to check out the Neighbors Against the Burner site:
Here’s the article from today’s St.PPP:
BY JASON HOPPIN
An opposition movement came to Macalester College’s Kagin Commons Tuesday night.
More than 125 neighbors attended a meeting by a group opposed to burning fuel derived from household garbage at a proposed Midway power plant. They filtered in from neighborhoods that have grown up around Rock-Tenn, the 99-year-old St. Paul paper recycling facility at the core of the controversy.
The neighbors say they’re concerned about the future, as are many who are following the Rock-Tenn story.
The plant is losing its source of cheap steam energy, a byproduct of the conversion of Xcel Energy’s coal-powered High Bridge plant to natural gas. Local officials are worried that Rock-Tenn may close – resulting in the loss of 500 high-paying jobs there.
Several parties are exploring whether to build an on-site power plant to provide Rock-Tenn a new, affordable source of energy. But one alternative for that proposed plant – using “refuse-derived fuel,” or RDF, to help power it – is generating opposition among many neighbors.
“We will not allow an incinerator to be (built) in St. Paul,” said Nancy Hone, who started Neighbors Against the Burner through meetings held in her living room. “This is insane.”
At first the group was small, but it appears to be growing in scale and sophistication. On Tuesday, members handed out buttons, T-shirts and lawn signs – a holy trinity for grassroots organizations.
The group also flew in Alan Muller, who heads Green Delaware, an environmental advocacy group, to argue that burning any biomass – whether it’s garbage or any of several alternatives being explored for the site, including farmed native grasses or construction waste – is dangerous to people’s health.
“The only way to protect your health from a burner is to just say ‘no’ to it,” said Muller, who drew from a 2005 study published by a group of British doctors for most of the conclusions during his PowerPoint presentation.
Supporters say harmful emissions can be filtered out and that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency would have to sign off on the plant. A handful of similar power plants currently are in operation throughout the state.
Neighbors Against the Burner’s growth could make building the power plant politically difficult. The group was formed partly out of dissatisfaction that a second neighborhood group – which drew a similarly sized crowd during its first public meeting – was not taking a strong enough stand against refuse-derived fuel.
That group, called Rock-Tenn Interested Neighbors, is being run in collaboration with neighborhood district councils and has made no conclusions about what kind of materials should be used to fire the plant.
The second group will also serve as a neighborhood voice on a state-funded, $4.5 million feasibility study on the plant soon to get under way. But with the rise of Neighbors Against the Burner, there is the possibility that, at the very least, mixed messages will be sent about the wishes of Rock-Tenn’s neighbors.
Officials connected to the power plant efforts have said they would prefer the plant be able to burn a variety of fuel sources. But some have acknowledged that to make the project work financially, RDF would have to be used.
The project is being headed by the St. Paul Port Authority, which would own the plant. It would be operated by District Energy, which burns wood waste and coal at its downtown plant to provide heating and cooling to much of the downtown area.
Jason Hoppin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-292-1892.