[GRRN] ACTION ALERT: STOP SUBSIDIES FOR WASTE BURNING

Brenda Platt (bplatt@ilsr.org)
Mon, 01 Nov 1999 00:41:56 +0000


ACTION ALERT
>From the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR)

On October 29, a bill to extend the renewable energy tax credit for
electricity generated from wind or plant matter was unanimously approved
by the Senate. Thatís the good news. Unfortunately, there is bad news
as well: the bill expands the subsidy to include waste-to-electricity.

Now is the time to let your legislators know that we must say YES! to
renewable energy incentives and NO! to waste-to-electricity.

Time is of the essence! The House will likely vote on and pass their
version of the bill to the Senate sometime the week of November 1st, a
bill which does not include the renewable energy incentives. The bills
will then go to conference committee, at which time the different
provisions will be discussed.

To CALL your Representative or Senator, dial the U.S. Capitol
Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

To EMAIL or WRITE your Senator, go to:
<http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm>

To EMAIL or WRITE your Representative to Congress, go to:
<http://www.house.gov/writerep/>

Please cc the Institute for Local Self-Reliance at <bplatt@ilsr.org>.

A sample letter is included at the end of this alert.

BACKGROUND

In 1992, as part of the Energy Policy Act, Congress included a tax
incentive for electricity produced from wind or biomass. The 1.5-cent
per kilowatt-hour tax credit proved immensely useful in rapidly
expanding the use of wind power in this country. The tax credit expired
in July 1999 and so far Congress has failed to extend it.

The Tax Relief Extension Act of 1999 (Senate Bill 1792) would offer
incentives to the burning of poultry manure, urban wastes and forestry
materials in addition to wind and biomass. To view the text of the
legislation, go to: <http://www.senate.gov/~finance/mime4301.pdf>.

If enacted, this would represent a step backward for the recycling
movement. We fought long and hard against garbage incinerators,
ultimately convincing most policymakers that it makes better sense to
recycle than to destroy. The same argument applies here. It is better
to recycle manure back to the land and thereby capture its nutrient and
organic matter value than to burn it for its Btu value. It is better to
recycle or reuse wood waste and thereby capture its fiber value than to
burn it for its Btu value. (For a fuller discussion of the poultry
manure-to-energy issue, see Looking Before We Leap, an ILSR policy brief
on the subject available in the Resources section of ILSRís Carbohydrate
Economy Web site at <www.carbohydrateeconomy.org>.)

The issue is complicated, as everything tends to be in Washington,
because the Senate bill that extends the renewable energy tax credit,
sponsored by Sen. Bill Roth (R-DE), also contains the troublesome
waste-to-electricity modifications described above. The proposed House
tax bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Archer (R-TX), however, offers no
incentives for any type of renewable energy. Thus, to many
environmentalists, endorsing the waste-to-electricity provisions seems a
necessary compromise to gain support for extending the renewable energy
tax incentives.

We hope such a tradeoff need not occur. This is a moment for the
recycling community to weigh in on both sides of this issue. We should
put our numbers and influence behind emphatically saying YES! to
renewable energy incentives. And just as emphatically saying NO! to
waste-to-electricity. Please contact your Senator or Representative to
do so.

_______

Here is a sample letter:

Dear Senator xxxxx [or in the case of Representative, Dear Mr., Mrs., or
Ms. xxxxx]:

I am writing to urge you to extend the lapsed wind and biomass energy
tax credit. Promoting renewable fuels is a worthy goal of public
policy. Expanding the definition of renewable resources to include
waste materials such as poultry manure and urban waste, however, is not.
The government should not subsidize one form of waste management (e.g.
incineration) over other forms (e.g. recycling).

Please extend the wind and biomass energy tax credit without including
waste-to-electricity incentives. I urge you to eliminate the
modifications for waste-to-electricity and to work toward establishing
economic tools that instead encourage waste reduction, reuse, and
recycling.

Sincerely,

[name and, if appropriate, organization]

cc: Brenda Platt, Director, Materials Recovery, Institute for Local
Self-Reliance

******************************************
Brenda A. Platt
Director, Materials Recovery
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
2425 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Ph (202) 232-4108 fax (202) 332-0463
Web: <http://www.ilsr.org>
******************************************