Monday, April 7, 2014

Cities waffle on incinerator proposals

My third story on the subject of new waste-incineration technologies, also known as waste-to-energy or conversion technologies, addresses a new element of the issue: whether cities are capable of fully evaluating new proposals given the technologies' poor public perception, lack of a track record, and attractive promises around renewable energy and waste management.

In theory they may seem like a great idea, but in practice how do they perform? Will we ever get that far, given the failure of more than 100 proposals across the country to date? For this story I investigated how some cities are handling proposals for the new plants from developers, how citizens are reacting, and how the plans are faring (more accurately, how they're failing).

If you haven't heard much about waste-to-energy yet, you will soon. Given our thirst for renewable energy and dwindling landfill space nationwide, these technologies seem to offer the perfect solution. But as I've covered before, considerable uncertainties and persistent concerns over environmental impacts and sustainability continue to dog the new plants. In this latest story, I examine how that has played out in a number of US cities.