A pile of petcoke which is mostly carbon and emits 30% to 80% more carbon dioxide than coal when burned. : Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Have you ever wondered what the disposal plan is for all the vast amount of waste product leftover after extracting oil from the tar sands? Apparently, Michigan has been burning it in its coal plants even though it emits 30% to 80% more carbon dioxide than coal. Now, with the help of ALEC, one legislator wants to redefine this hazardous waste to qualify as a renewable energy source so Michigan can meet those goals without having go install solar and wind energy generation. (This is not a snark: Cue Twilight Zone Music - Too, tee, too, tuu; too, tee, too, tuu).
Kate Valentine of Think Progress brings us the mind boggling news that a Michigan Lawmaker Wants Tar Sands Waste To Count As Renewable Energy, and he is a member of ALEC.
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R) is sponsoring a bill that would alter Michigan’s definition of renewable energy to include plastic waste and petroleum coke, a byproduct of tar sands refining. The aim of the bill is to “remove unnecessary burdens on the appropriate use of solid waste as a clean energy source.” Nesbitt told Midwest Energy News that he thinks burning things like plastic waste and petcoke for fuel would be a logical alternative to storing them in a landfill or having them pile up along rivers.
“I find it extremely troubling that some groups do not believe we should be encouraging or allowing for the development of utilizing our waste stream or preventing it from going to landfills,” he said. “If they want to support increased landfill use, that can be their position.”
What is not surprising is Nesbitt's membership in ALEC, whose donors includes the Koch brothers. ALEC has been fighting to weaken or to repeal renewable energy standards around the nation. I have another post in my que reporting that Ohio Governor John Kasich is expected to freeze their standards for two years and nullify portions of it.
Petcoke can emit 30% to 80% more carbon dioxide than even coal when burned, reports Valintine.
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters has spoken out against the bill, saying burning “hazardous waste and calling it clean is downright indefensible.
“Unbelievable as it may seem, if this bill passes, burning petcoke — the dirtiest byproduct of the oil refining process — would qualify as clean, renewable energy,” Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director for the Michigan LCV, wrote in an op-ed. “The incineration process emits carcinogenic toxins and harmful air pollution that put the health of Michiganders and our air and water on the line.”
Another shocking thing we learn in this article is that it turns out that West Virginia's Alternative and Renewable Portfolio Standard includes coal, natural gas, and tire-derived fuels in its definition of "alternative energy resources," say author Kate Valentine.
She also adds that the League of Conservation Voters indicates petcoke is already being used a fuel in Michigan's coal plants contributing to the the $1 billion in health care cost per year in Michigan alone, and they have said burning burning petcoke is like burning “hazardous waste and calling it clean (and) is downright indefensible."
This article reveals that ALEC is not just advocating a different legitimate points of view but is down right lying and willing to harm the health of our citizens for minor short-term financial gain of the fossil fuel industry. It's difficult not to use a normative adjective such as "evil" in such a blatant case of sheer mindless, shameless, and greedy, stupidity
We need to accumulate a portfolio of such examples, and then confront the public relations departments of all the corporations, and legislatures sponsoring such dastardly actions, alerting them that such an unseemly affiliation will seriously damage their reputations and brand image. We will make certain of it.