There’s Nothing Clean About Burning Garbage

In Pollution by OLCVstaff

When you think of clean energy, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you think of wind turbines on a gusty hill, or solar panels on a sunny rooftop. If you’re like Covanta—one of the biggest waste-incineration plants in Oregon—you think of burning trash.

But waste incineration is by no means clean energy. Burning trash contributes heavily to air pollution, and to climate change. In fact, on many levels, it’s far worse than fossil fuels. Covanta’s waste incineration plant adds nitrogen oxides, dioxins, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and heavy metals into the air, putting nearby communities at risk of severe asthma attacks, birth defects, strokes, and respiratory problems. That’s anything but clean.< And yet, if Senate Bill 451 passes, Covanta’s trash burning will legally count as clean energy. This OCN Major Threat—written by Covanta for Covanta—would allow Covanta to earn Renewable Energy Credits for burning trash, essentially incentivizing their waste incineration process. We can’t let this happen—ask your Senator to vote no on SB 451! 

Proponents say that SB 451 would support the burning of clean, biogenic waste sourced from organic matter. Sure, this may sound like it would be healthier, and less carbon-intensive, but studies show that biogenic fuels are no cleaner than fossil fuels. It doesn’t matter what kind of waste you incinerate—burning any kind of trash for energy contributes 2.5 times the amount of carbon and air pollution as does the burning of fossil fuels.

Now that Republican Senators are back in the Capitol, it’s our time to make our voices heard. Ask your Senator to vote no on this dangerous bill! We can’t let SB 451 incentivize waste incineration.

Covanta is already the top source of air pollution in Marion County, and in the top 10% of polluters statewide. SB 451 would essentially reward them for their pollution. Renewable Energy Certificates should be reserved for clean energy like solar, wind, small-hydroelectric, and geothermal; sources that reduce pollution rather than adding to it, and that help us move toward a low-carbon infrastructure.

Please, can you take a minute to ask your Senator to vote no on SB 451? The EPA has stated that trash incineration is more expensive and polluting than landfilling and burning coal. We can’t incentivize this dirty and inefficient energy production process. Let your legislator know that you oppose Covanta’s garbage bill. As Oregonians, we demand clean energy, clean air, and healthy communities, and we won’t cave in to Covanta’s demands.