Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Showdown coming: the people versus the "experts"

Metro Chair Lois Jackson is going way out on a dangerous limb.

In a half-page column in today's Vancouver Sun, Jackson casts her lot with a group of shadowy "experts" with ties to the incinerator industry -- and even, it seems, the tobacco industry.

In her column (probably penned by former Sun reporter Glenn Bohn, who is now part of the propaganda department at Metro Vancouver) Jackson trots out the same case for "why burning garbage is the best option" that was pitched at Metro's four forums earlier this month.

But the audiences at the forums weren't fooled. At every one of the four events, members of the audience stood up and complained to Chair Jackson that the panels were one-sided. All we were hearing was the case for incineration, people said. Why didn't Metro invite anyone to make the case against incineration?

Zero Waste BC distributed information sheets at the four events to make the case against incinerators and to expose the industry connections of the two "experts" that Metro flew in to convince us to accept incinerators in our communities.

Volunteers handed the Zero Waste information to as many members of the audience as we could reach. But, of course, Metro determines who sits at the front of the room -- and who gets half-page billing on the Op Ed page of the Vancouver Sun.

Later this month, Zero Waste Vancouver (an affiliate of Zero Waste BC) will be issuing an Alternative Plan for waste management in our region. We want to give Chair Jackson and the other political leaders in our region support in finding truly sustainable solutions that benefit the people of our region rather than big corporations from New Jersey.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About Metro Van's WTE program...

Metro Van's Waste-to-Energy proposal may have weaknesses, but what is the alternative?

Surely the alternative is not what is proposed by the Morris report ("Environmental Life Cycle Assessmentof Waste Management Strategieswith a Zero Waste Objective")!

For Morris, recycling and dumping--especially in Cache Creek--offer the best solution.

Says Morris: "... disposing MSW in landfills is more favourable than waste-to-energy in all three environmental impact areas, particularly once organics are removed from the waste stream. Given these findings, disposal options should be seen only as interim solutions necessary to bridge the gap ...between the present situation and a zero waste objective achieved within a 20 - 30 year time horizon." Ever so conveniently, this 20-30 year bridging gap just happens to coincide with Wastech's current push to have the Cache Creek facility extended to last for another 20-25 years. (And we remember that the Morris study was commissioned by Wastech!)

No program is ever perfect, granted; but here are a couple of things that the decision makers ought to keep in mind:

1) Whatever may be the weaknesses of the WTE proposal, it has the huge merit of wanting to solve the waste problem at the source--ie., in the Lower Mainland. It finally rejects the unethical resort of passing its problem on to our district.
2) The Morris report makes a basic--and quite naive assumption: that at the end of its bridging period of 20 or so years, dumping at Cache Creek will end, and with it all the problems associated with dumping such staggering amounts of garbage (roughly between 10 and 15 million tonnes). Morris may well be wrong on both counts: First, judging by the history of the CC facility, Wastech and the MOE have found excuse after excuse for expanding it & keeping it going beyond its initial mandate, so that there exists a real possibility that--if it's given the OK to expand now--it just may go on indefinitely; second, Morris overlooks the perhaps even more crucial point that even if the facility DOES close 20 years from now, its effects will be felt for centuries afterward.

By all means you in the Lower Mainland and in the Fraser Valley choose whichever waste option you think is best, but please don't make your best our worst.
Ermes Culos