The Sierra Club’s statewide chapter, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Minnesota Public Interest Research Group met in April to create a collective campaign to close the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center.
The opposition comes at a time when the state has reaffirmed waste-to-energy as part of its diversion strategy. About one-fifth of Minnesota’s garbage goes to WTE facilities. Recently, two counties announced plans to buy a once privately owned refuse-derived fuel facility and continue to operate it.
The environmental groups, however, are worried about the potential pollution the facilities may cause even though WTE plants are considered renewable energy by the EPA.
Midwest Energy News has more:
The strategy of reducing and eliminating landfills places Minnesota closer to international trends than national ones. And no other Midwest state comes close to its devotion to garbage incineration.
Minnesota has nine waste-to-energy plants, more than the rest of the region combined. They collectively produce enough electricity to power around 100,000 homes, according to the Minnesota Resource Recovery Association. The Midwest has only six other plants in three states, three of those are in Michigan.
“Connecticut, Minnesota, Florida and New York are leaders,” said Paul Gilman, chief sustainability officer for Covanta, which operates a waste-to-energy plant in downtown Minneapolis as well as several others around the country.
But the United States remains a laggard, with fewer than 100 waste-to-energy plants, compared to more than 400 in Europe, more than 300 in Asia and 100 under construction in China, he said. Minnesota officials say 8 percent of U.S. energy needs are met by waste-to-energy.