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RE: [greenyes] Energy Bill and Recycling
Doug -- This is enormously helpful and a great service to everyone on
the list. Critics of Zero Waste have, for the last 18 months, been
dressing up their burn and bury strategy as a panacea to America's
perceived energy shortage. Trash is not a renewable energy source. It is
time to pull back the curtain and reveal their true intent.

GRRN will be posting info and action opportunities to our website in the
next couple of days. Stay tuned and stay involved. 

David Wood
Madison, WI
608-255-4800, ext. 100
-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Koplow [mailto:koplow@no.address] 
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2003 7:10 PM
To: greenyes@no.address
Subject: [greenyes] Energy Bill and Recycling

Just a heads up that HR6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003 that has just
been passed by the House, contains a range of provisions likely to harm
recycling and composting.  Though I am still in the process of analyzing
the bill, it is clear that many wastes that can be recycled will receive
tax subsidies of 1.8 or 1.2 cents per kWh if they are instead burned for
electricity.  So far I've seen no countervailing subsidies to recycling
to at least keep some neutrality among the options.  This once again
demonstrates the folly of recycling interests trying to obtain subsidies
for recycling rather than contesting subsidies to landfilling,
incineration, and virgin materials production, all of which devalue

The following practices are eligible for subsidies under the bill and
likely to harm recycling and composting:

-Landfill gas
-Waste-to-energy plants burning mixed MSW (this is one of first bills to
include WTE on the list of "qualified" biomass facilities.  Normallly,
it is explicitly excluded.
-Another notable exception:  almost all the past versions of the
"biomass subsidies for everybody" provisions excluded old growth timber
from eligibility.  This one does not.  I guess old growth makes good
-Waste pallets and construction and demolition debris of all types other
than treated wood.
-Other electricity made from wood residues, including at existing
facilities.  This appears to provide tax subsidies to existing energy
recovery at paper mills (among others).  I working to confirm this, but
if it is the case, would be a subsidy of hundreds of millions of dollars
to virgin paper production for something they've already been doing for
30 years.  
-Paper that is not "commonly recycled," which will likely harm attempts
to broaden the range of recycled fiber.  No definition of what falls
into the "commonly recycled" category.
-For composting, pretty much anything woody out of a forest, anything
with carbon on a farm.  This includes wastes from sheep, pigs, chickens,
and cows that get subsidized if you make electricity out of it.
Especially with animal wastes, the primary beneficiaries will be the
very large animal factory farms, as they are the ones with enough waste
to run an energy plant.  The provisions, aside from undermining organics
recovery through composting, will also worsen the relative economics of
family versus corporate farms, and of organic farms (which rely on
nutrient recycling) versus chemical-intensive farms.

In fact, all of the issues I highlighted in a past op-ed on and earlier
energy bill seem to be items of concern in HR 6.  See: 

For more on the impact of landfill gas subsidies on recycling see: 

For details on the energy bill provisions I've evaluated to date (lots
of the recycling stuff not yet in there), see: 

Finally, for a bit of satire on the rather sordid process of this bill,

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel:  617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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