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[GreenYes] CALLS NEEDED: Stop Tax Credits for Garbage Energy
TO:     Waste Reduction, Incineration & Landfill Activists
FROM:   Bill Sheehan, GrassRoots Recycling Network
7/21/2001

RE:  STOP TAX SUBSIDIES FOR INCINERATORS 
           AND LANDFILLS

On Wednesday, July 18th, the House Ways and Means 
Committee consolidated energy measures from three 
other committees into an omnibus bill, H.R. 2511, that 
encourages energy production through tax benefits, 
among other things (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/).
Included in Section 102 of the bill are two damaging 
provisions that will boost wasting in landfills and 
incinerators and thereby further undermine recycling 
and composting. The bill could go to the House floor as 
soon as this Tuesday (July 24) or in the next week or 
so.  The waste industry is organized and out in force - 
but Congress members have heard NOTHING from 
recyclers and others working for a waste-free future.

CALLS are Urgently Needed to Congress House members.  

MESSAGE:  Tell them not to further undermine 
recycling and composting by perpetuating obsolete and 
toxic wasting technologies.  Delete tax credits for 
energy from landfills in Section 102, and explicitly 
exclude tax credits for incinerators in the same section.

Call the full Ways and Means Committee at 202-225-
3625, and the Subcommittee on Select Revenue 
Measures at 202-225-3625.

Call House Ways and Means Committee members from 
your state (go to 
http://waysandmeans.house.gov/memsub.htm to find 
out who is on from your state).  Ask for the tax 
legislative assistant.  Leave a voice mail if necessary.

****************************************

BACKGROUND

H.R. 2511 is written to create the impression that 
electricity generated by mass burn incinerators is 
excluded. However, the specific language used to do 
this creates a definite loophole that could be exploited 
to include incineration.  The exclusion is ostensibly 
accomplished by stating that "unsegregated municipal 
solid waste" does not qualify for the credit. However, 
this creates the potential for opportunistic incinerator, 
and certainly RDF, operators to claim that an 
inexpensive and limited magnetic steel separator or 
other minor separation screen at the incoming head of 
the facility provides sufficient segregation to qualify.  
Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) made one attempt to 
introduce an amendment in committee to explicitly 
qualify waste-to-energy incinerators for the credit that 
was unsuccessful at the time. He is expected to 
reintroduce the same amendment next week.

Furthermore, H.R. 2511 explicitly expands section 45 
of the Internal Revenue Code in order to qualify 
electricity generated with landfill methane gas 
(produced when garbage decomposes without oxygen).  
Collection of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, should 
be required, like liners and leachate collection systems.  
Generating electricity from landfill methane is a public 
relations gimmick to perpetuate through subsidies the 
market dominance of the obsolete practice of 
landfilling. (Europeans are moving to banning all land 
waste disposal).  Only a small fraction of methane is 
actually recovered, while the remainder, along with 
numerous toxic gases like methyl-mercury, escapes into 
the atmosphere.  More significantly, the toxic brew 
inside the landfill remains a threat to groundwater 
forever, while containment systems will fail within 
decades. 


*****************************************

POSITION STATEMENT
GrassRoots Recycling Network 

DON'T SUBSIDIZE ENERGY FROM GARBAGE!

Tax subsidies for making energy from mixed garbage 
will increase the release of toxics into the environment, 
undermine successful recycling and composting 
programs, and stifle innovation that could lead us to 
sustainable "zero waste" programs.

From an environmental perspective, promoting 
incineration and landfilling is wrong.  These obsolete 
technologies waste resources, release pollutants that 
threaten the environment and public health, and 
contribute to global warming.

It is not efficient to make energy from garbage.  
Sustainable resource conserving technologies like 
recycling and composting are more energy-efficient 
than burning used resources.  

Landfill gases, as one of the largest contributors to 
global warming, should be REQUIRED to be 
controlled, not subsidized.  Only a small part of the 
methane generated in landfills can be recovered for 
energy - the rest, along with other toxic gases, 
continues to go into the atmosphere.  

Organics like paper, wood, food scraps and yard 
trimmings don't belong in landfills or incinerators.  
Organic biomass makes up 70% of the materials 
currently sent to waste facilities.  If these materials are 
separated from the toxics and non-organic materials in 
trash, they can be converted to useful products. Because 
organics mixed with garbage cannot safely be managed 
in the ground, Europe has already begun phasing out 
their land disposal.

Composting is a proven technology that can restore the 
fertility of America's farms and parks. Other in-vessel 
bioconversion technologies show promise of creating 
products in urban areas from separated organic 
materials. 


*********************************
Bill Sheehan
Executive Director
GrassRoots Recycling Network
P.O. Box 49283
Athens, GA  30604-9283
Tel: 706-613-7121  Fax: -7123
Email:  zerowaste@grrn.org
Web:  http://www.grrn.org
*********************************

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