Fight not over
Not too long ago, the group Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield had a guest speaker from Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). Organizer Ananda Tan told us about anti-incinerator efforts around the country, and one comment really stuck in my mind. He said that anywhere in the country that incinerators had been stopped, they were stopped not by federal or state governments, but by the people.
Well, the people in Springfield have really stepped up to say no to the planned biomass incinerator that Palmer Renewable Energy wants to build in our community.
It took a while for us to catch on to what was happening, but once we did, almost every single person in Springfield has expressed opposition.
I have certainly learned that the federal and state regulations that are supposed to protect us are not strong enough. Outgoing Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles could, if he had wanted to, at least called for a full Environmental Impact Report of this plant but he didn't. I wonder how some people sleep at night.
Worse, the city of Springfield has absolutely no laws on the books that allow them to reject these kinds of proposals because of their negative impact on our health. Mayor Sarno was being disengenuous when he recently said that his support for PRE's plant "has been and continues to be contingent on the proposed facility meeting all stringent federal, state and local environmental, health and safety requirements." What local environmental laws is he talking about?
In the last two years I've learned that Springfield's air quality is far worse than we can imagine. I've learned that every environmental issue is really a public health issue. Looking beyond this battle, I hope that Springfield residents have now been mobilized to tackle these quality of life issues so that not only can we fight off new threats to our health, we can even eliminate some of the existing sources.