As most of my Massachusetts readers know, on Friday, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles and DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt announced that Massachusetts would retain its moratorium on new construction or expansion of municipal waste combustors. Although the overall outcome is not really a surprise from this administration, a few points are worth noting.
The announcement says nothing about new technologies, such as plasma arc gasification. Arguably, such a technology is not “incineration” or “combustion,” so we’ll have to see whether the administration remains open to such alternatives to traditional incineration.
The administration emphasized that it is committed to decreasing the volume of the waste stream and noted some specific initiatives that it intends to pursue:
Comprehensive producer responsibility legislation for discarded electronics – The announcement did not refer to any specific legislation (see here for a helpful table summarizing the current state of e-waste legislation nationwide, including in MA), but the administration is clearly going to be pushing for some kind of E-waste bill.
Expansion of the bottle bill to cover water and sports drinks. Since I have joined those who consider bottled water use a pet peeve, I can’t complain about this one.
Finally, the Secretary stated that he had directed DEP to cease permitting any use of construction and demolition, or C&D, waste as fuel in any energy facility until a comprehensive review can be completed. The announcement specifically called out the Palmer Renewable Energy facility as being affected by the halt.
It is clear that the current economy is not discouraging the Patrick administration from its aggressive environmental agenda.