Trash-to-fuel proposal in Catskills draws environmental opposition
Roger Hannigan Gilson in the Times Union reports that environmentalists are concerned about a proposal by a Yonkers-based company attempting to build a plant in the Catskill Park to convert food waste and other trash into paper products and “biofuel pellets” that could replace coal. The plant would go in Delaware County, less than 2,000 feet from the Schoharie Creek, near the Greene County border. Hughes Energy would attempt the first use of this technology in the U.S., with a goal of diverting more than 176,000 tons of garbage from landfills each year. So far there have been two public information sessions about the proposal. Wes Gillingham, the associate director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, said there was a lot of opposition. “[Hughes Energy CEO Dane McSpedon] had a really hard time getting through his program because people were so angry,” Gillingham said. “Something that needs to be considered in any proposal is whether the community where it’s being placed wants it there – it’s their community,” he added. Municipal garbage would be trucked to the plant from transfer stations within a 50-mile radius, if the proposal is approved. The state Department of Environmental Conservation needs to decide whether the proposal could have enough impact on its surroundings to require a full environmental review. LaFarge in Ravena has attempted to burn trash in its kilns, and, so far has not been allowed. A proposal to bury waste in Catskill was withdrawn a few years ago too. Gillingham says, “At this point this looks like a really bad proposal for the Catskills.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.