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Over Ten Thousand Signatures Delivered to DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell with plea: “No New Burning in MA"
L to R: MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Kirstie Pecci, MASSIPRG Intern Lauren Emanuel, Clean Water Action MA State Director Elizabeth Saunders, MASSPIRG Students Organizing Director Samantha Gibb and MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz.
In an overwhelming demonstration of opposition to a pending DEP proposal, over 10,000 citizen comments were delivered to DEP offices around the state today. At the Boston drop-off, Commissioner Ken Kimmell briefly met with the advocates who delivered the comments, and spoke to the press who attended the event. The comments included handwritten notes, photo albums, and other personal messages. Friday, March 1, 2013 is the deadline for the official comment period on DEP’s proposal to lift the state’s 20+ year old moratorium on additional incineration of solid waste.
Despite a pledge made in December 2009 by Governor Deval Patrick to maintain the longstanding moratorium on new incineration facilities in Massachusetts, DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell recently announced his intention to lift that moratorium and allow for more burning of waste in Massachusetts. “Burning garbage is dirty, polluting, and the last thing anyone in this state wants in their neighborhood,” commented Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, one of many organizations fighting the proposal. “The Patrick Administration promised a solid waste plan with more ‘reduce/reuse/recycle’, but it looks like that promise might go up in smoke.”
In a coordinated effort in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and other cities and towns across the state, citizen activists delivered over 10,000 comments collected over the course of the past two months calling for DEP to retain the almost 23 year-old incinerator moratorium. “People in Springfield know what burning garbage looks like and smells like, and they don’t want another ounce of it,” said Claire Miller, of Toxics Action Center. “We don’t want to get burned again.” MASSPIRG and Toxics Action are part of Don’t Waste Massachusetts, a coalition including dozens of organizations pushing for waste reduction.
Every 10 years, the DEP issues a “Solid Waste Master Plan”, the state’s blueprint for dealing with waste. The draft 2010-2020 plan, issued in July 2010, kept the incinerator moratorium in place, and emphasized policies promoting reduce/reuse/recycle. For over two years, in a still-unexplained delay, the DEP sat on the draft plan. Then, on November 26, DEP Commissioner Kimmell advised a small group that the plan was imminent, and would, in a change of policy, allow for new burning of waste. Recycling advocates asked for a comment period on that provision, to prove how unpopular and unnecessary such a move would be. The 10,000 citizen comments, collected in less than 8 weeks, demonstrate just how odious the proposal is in the eyes of the public.
In particular, student activists mobilized to generate comments on college campuses across the state. A Suffolk University student, Lauren Emanuel, participated in the drop-off and told Commissioner Kimmell, “Students care about the environment and about the future. My classmates and I have been working hard to increase recycling and make Massachusetts cleaner and healthier, but if this moratorium is lifted we will only move backward.”
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