It hurts when an organization you like screws up, then offers up a weak explanation for why the screw-up happened.
That's why I'm so disappointed with the Salem City Club, which has decided to only have Marion County representatives speak at a February 21 program about the Covanta garbage burner in Brooks -- a decision that has outraged environmentalists who urged the City Club to also have someone speak about the downsides of the garbage burner.
Which are many, as this excerpt from an Oregon League of Conservation Voters post says.
When you think of clean energy, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you think of wind turbines on a gusty hill, or solar panels on a sunny rooftop. If you’re like Covanta — one of the biggest waste-incineration plants in Oregon — you think of burning trash.
But waste incineration is by no means clean energy. Burning trash contributes heavily to air pollution, and to climate change. In fact, on many levels, it’s far worse than fossil fuels. Covanta’s waste incineration plant adds nitrogen oxides, dioxins, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and heavy metals into the air, putting nearby communities at risk of severe asthma attacks, birth defects, strokes, and respiratory problems. That’s anything but clean.
Last week I was included in email exchanges between environmentalists from the local chapter of 350.org and City Club members in charge of the garbage burner program. My sympathies then, as now, are with the environmentalists.
For after failing to have the Oregon legislature approve a bill in 2019 that would grant Renewable Energy Credits to Covanta, there's another effort underway in the upcoming 2020 short legislative session to pass a similar bill.
Here's a message that Andy Harris sent to state Representative Brian Clem on this subject.
So Marion County, which handles the Covanta contract and is overseen by an all-Republican Board of Commissioners who, so far as I know, are all global warming deniers (Sam Brentano definitely is), gets to use the February 21 City Club program to present a one-sided view of how wonderful the Covanta garbage burner is, and why renewable energy credits should be bestowed on the Covanta corporation.
This makes no sense to me, especially since February 21 is right in the middle of the February 3 - March 7 legislative session.
By not allowing an environmentalist like Andy Harris to be able to refute the claims of the Marion County representatives who will have the podium all to themselves, the Salem City Club has chosen to align itself with one-side of the Covanta garbage burner debate -- which happens to be the side that has the least scientific credibility, in my view.
Yet here's a screenshot of the February 21 City Club program description:
Wow. There's so much wrong with this. "Differing scientific opinion" is how global warming deniers rationalize their refusal to acknowledge the scientific consensus around climate change.
I don't believe there is a valid scientific case to be made in favor of allowing the Covanta garbage burner to continue spewing pollutants.
Yet the City Club is only allowing Marion County representatives to speak on February 21, where, according to the program, the representatives will explain why continued support of the garbage burner is justified, along with Covanta's effort to get renewable energy credits.
Why isn't the City Club presenting both sides of what it calls "differing scientific opinion"? As a long-time City Club member, this bothers me. A lot.
Tonight I did get a message from someone who was tasked with trying to explain to us skeptics why the City Club is handling the garbage burner program the way it is. Below is the message, which I don't find very persuasive.
I deeply doubt that the Marion County representatives are going to present the scientific case against the Covanta garbage burner, or will limit their talk to being an "information session only."
Thus I think the Salem City Club is making a big mistake by not allowing both sides to speak on February 21, and will end up regretting having chosen to give Marion County free rein to praise the highly polluting garbage burner. The City Club person said: