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[GreenYes] Sign on to oppose incineration in Bush Energy Bill
Dear Allies:

I am hoping your organizations (both national and international) will be
able to sign on to a letter to President Bush opposing any incentive (or
subsidy) for municipal solid waste incineration in energy legislation
based on his national energy policy. Bush's energy plan specifically
includes (under renewables) support forbiomass energy from "certain urban sources."  We're very concerned that,
as Congress starts to move legislation based on the Bush energy plan,
subsidies or other incentives to increase incineration will be included.
So we're spear-heading a letter to Bush, to be cc:ed to each of the
relevant committees in Congress, asking that any potential incentives for
incineration be opposed and that any incentives for renewables
specifically exclude incineration.

A draft letter is pasted below. Please sign on by replying to Ethan Orley
( This letter has been drafted based on information that
we currently have.  Any suggestions or important revisions should be
emailed to the above address.  Revisions will likely be made, however they
must come soon due to the relatively short timeline.

Please email: contact person, organization, and address


Ethan Orley
Jeremiah Baumann

Toxics & Environmental Health
U.S. PIRG/The National Association of State PIRGs


The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Cc: Representative W.J. Tauzin, Committee on Energy and Commerce
Representative John Dingell, Committee on Energy and Commerce
Representative William Thomas, Committee on Ways and Means Representative
Charles Rangel, Committee on Ways and Means Senator James Jeffords,
Committee on the Environment and Public Works Senator Robert Smith,
Committee on the Environment and Public Works Senator Jeff Bingaman,
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Senator Frank Murkowski,
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Senator Max Baucus, Committee on
Finance Senator Charles Grassley, Committee on Finance

Dear President Bush,

We are writing to express opposition to any increase in municipal solid
waste incineration that could result from your recently developed national
energy policy. We urge you to oppose any such increase, clarify that your
energy strategy does not include waste incineration as an energy source,
and work instead to ensure that the existing use of incinerators is phased

In recent decades, our country has made significant progress toward
cleaning up our environment and preventing pollution, resulting in cleaner
air, water, and land in many places. While municipal waste incinerators
continue to burden communities with toxic emissions and health impacts
ranging from childhood asthma to increased cancer risks, one indicator of
our nation's progress toward protecting public health is that for the last
six years, no new incinerators have been built.

In light of this trend, we are concerned that your energy plan includes
support for biomass energy from "certain urban sources." If this language
were interpreted as support for increasing the incineration of municipal
solid waste, your energy plan would go against decades of science
documenting the health threats of incineration. We strongly support the
use of renewable energy like wind and solar power. However, the
incineration of municipal solid waste is neither a renewable biomass
energy source (particularly with its high-content of plastics and other
non-biological materials) nor is it an environmentally sound or
sustainable technology. Waste incinerators are a significant source of
both air emissions and toxic wastes containing dioxin, mercury, lead, and
other harmful substances that are created or released as waste is burned.

Municipal solid waste incineration is the second largest source of dioxin,
contributing nearly a third of the United States' air emissions. Dioxin is
one of the most toxic substances ever studied, a known carcinogen that
adversely affects growth, reproduction, and the immune system at extremely
low exposure levels already found in the human food chain.  In addition,
incinerators contribute 20% of the nation's mercury emissions. Mercury can
cause significant neurological damage and birth defects, resulting in
developmental delays and cognitive defects. When released into the
atmosphere, or taken in waste ash to a land disposal site, mercury ends up
in groundwater or surface waterways, where it accumulates to high levels
in the fish Americans eat. A recent study by the National Academy of
Sciences estimated that as many as 60,000 babies may be born at risk of
neurological damage every year because of the their mothers' mercury
exposure through fish.

Incinerators are responsible for environmental releases of a host of other
highly toxic pollutants, including PCBs, which can be created when waste
is burned even though their production has been banned in the U.S., and
lead, which is one of the pollutants most thoroughly studied for its
impacts on children's cognitive development. In the US, in 1998 alone,
150,000 pounds of lead were emitted by incinerators. Because many of these
pollutants are persistent pollutants, even if air emissions are reduced,
the pollutants will contaminate the waste ash from the incinerator, which
will ultimately be disposed of in a landfill or other environmental

Your administration has already taken steps to protect public health and
the environment on other policies addressing these pollutants. We applaud
your decision to sign the International Treaty on Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POP), which will require world-wide reduction and elimination
of dioxin, PCBs, and other pollutants, several of which are produced or
released by incinerators. We also applaud your administration's earlier
decision to uphold requirements that industries report their lead
emissions because of their persistence in the environment. This
right-to-know measure is widely expected to result in reduced lead
pollution; to increase incineration would increase lead pollution.

Municipal solid waste incineration, with its toxic emissions, is not only
a step away from a renewable energy economy, but is also a step away from
solving solid waste problems. Incineration removes the incentive for waste
reduction and recycling by making solid waste seem to disappear, but
leaving a toxic legacy in its place. Reducing, reusing, and recycling are
more effective way of addressing solid waste problems and preventing
pollution at the same time.

We call on you to take the position that is consistent with your support
for the POPs treaty and that is in favor or protecting human health and
the environment. Please oppose any measures that could support or increase
solid waste incineration and insist that any measures providing incentives
for renewable energy explicitly exclude waste incineration.


Jeremiah Baumann
U.S. PIRG/ The National Association of State PIRGS
Washington D.C.

Ellen Pietroski
Waste Awareness and Reduction Network
Durham, NC

Diane Hebert
Environmental Health Watch
Midland, Michigan

Gary Cohen
Environmental Health Fund

Jacquelyn Elliott
Citizens Leading for Environmental Action and Responsibility
Claremont, NH

Sandy C. Smith
Sludge Busters
York Co.,PA

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