Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
On Monday, China's middle class "lodged its first mass challenge against the government by staging an environmental protest" -- against an incinerator.
Yesterday, an alliance of state legislators and environmental groups in Minnesota foiled plans by the county and its incineration contractor to sneak through a 21% expansion of a local garbage incinerator as an "administrative amendment" to their permit. That contractor asking for the expansion is Covanta, the same company that operates Metro's Burnaby incinerator.
The MN Pollution Control Agency also cautioned Covanta they had better comply with the existing permit. Last week Covanta was fined by the state of New Jersey for violating air pollution control standards.
And yesterday in Scotland, "a number of senior politicians, experts and members of the public yesterday spent almost six hours berating Perth and Kinross Council planning officers over the 'catastrophic' decision to grant outline planning consent for a £100 million incinerator close to Perth town centre." (Courier, 25 November). As a result of their efforts, the incinerator plan is now considered "dead in the water."
Metro engineer Ken Carrusca and Surrey Councillor Marvin Hunt were scheduled to be speakers at a major conference on incineration held this week in Toronto, but their names suddenly disappeared from the agenda. They were supposed to talk about "mitigating negative public perception" of garbage incinerators.
Pic: Guardian, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
The question is: can Vancouver politicians pick up their game in time to avoid an embarrassing pratt- fall during the Vancouver Olympics?
Metro Vancouver scored the first point by framing “garbage dumps” as outmoded, dangerous, and barbaric. This subtly reinforced long-held public attitudes and boxed the City of Vancouver in a corner. The City is the owner of the region's largest "dump."
Then Metro framed “waste to energy” as clean, modern, safe and efficient. The region has spared no cost in reinforcing this message through politician junkets to Europe, invited "experts,"and a steady stream of biased commentary through the local media.
Ane what was the City of Vancouver's reponse to all of this? Deafening silence.
Vancouver's staff commissioned two consultant reports in January 2008 as soon as they got wind of Metro's plan. The Deloitte Touche and CH2MHill reports gave the City all the tools they needed to mount an effective campaign against Metro's incinerator plan.
But Vancouver's politicians missed the play.
While Metro is actually rolling out pilot programs to compost food waste (a clever foil for their incinerator preparations) the City of Vancouver will apparently have nothing in place for expanded organics collection until as far away as May, 2010.
Meanwhile, what will the world see when they visit in February?
The Vancouver landfill -- although it meets all of our environmental requirements here in British Columbia -- would be illegal in Europe.
Under a directive by the European Union, all of the nations of Europe have laws banning the disposal of organics in landfills. They took this strong action years ago to prevent the formation of the potent GHG methane in landfills.
When European athletes and fans arrive here in February and learn that the host city is dumping raw, unprocessed organic wastes in its city landfill, they will see us as worse than syrup-suckers. They will see us as climate outlaws.
How embarrassing will that be to our Greenest City mayor?
Pic: It will take more than photo-ops, like this one posted by City Farmer, to win Vancouver the Greenest City medal.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Several media outlets reported that the Board had approved some stiff increases to our regional taxes (50% increase in 5 years!). There was also mention of the hike in the garbage tipping fees, from the current $70/tonne to $82/tonne.
But why didn't anybody mention the $440 million dollar "material and energy recovery facility"?
The Board approved the first $4 million dollars as a 2010 capital expenditure. The project is identified as a "Solid Waste Management Plan Initiative," but such a facility is not authorized under the current SWMP.
The new regional waste plan has not even been unveiled yet, let alone shared for comment by the region's municipalities, let alone approved by the province. We're still being told at all the public meetings that "no decision has been made."
In 2000, need we be reminded, Metro didn't tell anyone before going out and spending $4.5 million on a ranch to build a 100 year landfill that was also not authorized under the waste plan. Now Metro is trying to figure out how to stop bleeding money operating a ranch.
Raising buffalo may look like a good option compared to where Metro is taking us next.