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Tonko clean energy bill includes burning garbage

Apr 27, 2021 2:00 pm

Noah Zweifel reports in the Altamont Enterprise that while Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat representing Albany County and other upstate regions, touts his massive CLEAN Future Act as “bold and urgent federal climate action,” environmental activists are upset about the bill's allowances for waste incineration as a source of clean electricity. “Burning municipal waste doesn’t eliminate the need for landfills; for every three pounds of trash burned, one pound of toxic ash is produced. The fly ash is emitted into the atmosphere and readily contaminates the air, soil, and water. The bottom ash contains concentrated toxins and must be landfilled in someone’s community," said Alexis Goldsmith, the national organizing director of Beyond Plastics, a policy group headquartered at Bennington College in Vermont. In response, Tonko’s communications director, Matt Sonneborn issued a statement bragging about Tonko's environmental record, but not addressing the issue of burning garbage. Instead, environmentalists would like to see less trash produced. “Nearly 400 million tons of virgin plastic is produced annually,” Goldsmith said, “and that amount is expected to triple by 2050. [Forty-percent] of new plastic is for single use packaging. The flood of material in the waste stream is overwhelming and unmanageable. Even with good waste management practices, plastic readily contaminates the environment." Read more about this story in the Altamont Enterprise.