This bill creates “The Finger Lakes community preservation act of 2018” the intent of which is to protect this region from the adverse effects garbage incineration. A recent proposal to build a garbage burning plant in the Finger Lakes town of Romulus has brought to light an inconsistency between state energy siting law and local laws.
All across the state, municipalities are working on the higher end of the waste management hierarchy; namely the prevention of waste and increased materials management for recyclables. This is sound fiscal and environmental policy that will create healthier and vibrant communities. In light of this, local governments should have a strong say in the management of the materials (what some call ‘waste’) generated and/or disposed of in their community.
New York policy does not recognize garbage burning as the best method of waste management. In fact the New York State Solid Waste Management Plan states that waste prevention, reuse and recycling offers much greater energy conservation, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and other environmental benefits than burning. In addition, the New York State Energy Plan has both near-term (2030) and long-term goals (2050) that are designed to shift the electricity sector to 100% renewable energy. Recently Governor Cuomo issued a statement in opposition to the proposed incinerator in which he states that it “is at odds with New York's renewable energy plan and that threatens important natural resources, environmentally sensitive areas, and economic drivers in the Finger Lakes region.” Other state regulations and laws [6 NYCRR Part 204-1.2(b) (67) and Chapter 497 of 2009] exclude the combustion or pyrolysis of municipal solid waste from the definition of renewable energy.
State law should be clear that burning garbage is the wrong choice as a materials management strategy and it is not a clean way to generate energy.
This legislation amends state law to prohibit new garbage incineration in communities where all of the flowing conditions exist: 1) the facility is proposed in the Oswego River/Finger Lakes Watershed; 2) there is at least one landfill or other solid waste management facility within a fifty-mile radius; and, 3) the facility would be within ten miles of a Department of Environmental Conservation designated priority waterbody. The prohibition does not apply to facilities in operation before February 1, 2018.