This bill clarifies state law to ensure that local laws are respected as it relates to the management and disposal of solid waste. 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. Local leaders and the residents who oppose the project have sought clarity in the form of an amendment to state energy law.
All across the state municipalities are working on the higher ends 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.
Thus, local governments should have a strong say in the management of the materials (what some call ‘waste’) generated and/or disposed in its community. As to garbage burning, the State does not believe that it is the best method of waste management. In fact the New York State Solid Waste Management Plan (Solid Waste Management Plan) recognizes that waste prevention, reuse and recycling offer 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 opined 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, Laws 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 the public service law to require the energy siting board to acknowledge and respect local laws that restrict the combustion of solid wastes.