Trash Has Role in Energy Plan, Waste Management Says
Waste Management Inc., North America’s largest garbage hauler, says trash gets no respect from Barack Obama and the “green-energy” crowd.
Waste Management, Republic Services Inc. and Covanta Holding Corp. say their success producing power from landfills and waste incinerators is being ignored as the U.S. doles out $60 billion in energy grants and tax breaks from President Obama’s economic stimulus. The companies say they may also be shortchanged as Congress develops long-term rewards for alternative fuels.
“We’ve become the unseen renewable energy source that no one pays attention to,” Waste Management’s Chief Executive Officer David Steiner said in an interview. “Why not help us? We are underrepresented because we are the garbage guys.”
Obama has called for an 11-fold increase in the use of renewable power to reduce dependence on coal plants blamed for global warming. While waste-based energy would make Obama’s goal more achievable, environmentalist groups such as Environment America have long opposed the garbage companies as polluters and say burning trash releases toxic chemicals.
“From an environmental perspective, the best solution is to generate less trash, and the garbage industry is not very interested in that solution,” said Anna Aurilio, Washington office director for Environment America.
The waste industry produces energy by incinerating solid waste to produce steam that drives a turbine, and by capturing the gas methane from garbage decomposing in landfills....MORE...Nationally, 450 landfills and 87 incinerators produced about 24 million megawatt-hours of electricity in 2007, about 2 days of U.S. electricity use, according to Energy Department data. By comparison, wind energy contributes about 3 days of U.S. power a year and solar produces 76 minutes’ worth....MORE