Friday, August 8, 2008

How to Stop a Tire Burning Plant in PA


What does an urban community do when it is assaulted by plans to build the world largest dedicated tire-burning plant in a downtown residential neighborhood?

It gets PISSED!

Erie Renewable Energy, LLC think it knows a rust-belt sucker when it sees one. A miniscule 60 jobs on a KOZ brown-field are proposed for the site in order to place itself as an electricity provider when the PA electricity rate-caps come off in 2010. (Can you say windfall profits?)

A grass-roots organization named K.E.E.P (Keep Erie’s Environment Protected) formed in Erie in the summer of 2007 to fight this proposed environmental monstrosity in the face of a community revolt and (expected) local governmental inertia.

Environmental expert Mike Ewall, in conjunction with the local Green Party in Erie, has assisted in part with the formation of a grassroots organization that has taken the town by storm.
Here’s what the folks in Erie are saying:

'If this project is developed as planned, we will be faced with potentially having to move our processing plant and likely our distribution plant south of Erie and possibly Erie County for the sake of maintaining food safety and product integrity.”

This quote comes from Bruce Kern, a food processing company owner near the proposed tire-to-toxic-death plant. K.E.E.P. has now to date 29 letters from local business in clear opposition to the construction of the proposed tire-burning plant.

The proposed tire-burning plant filed for its air-quality permit, a signal important hurdle in being granted a go-ahead by the PA DEP in December of 2007. In its application, Erie Renewable Energy (since when are tires renewable?) said its operation would be officially listed as a “major source of hazardous air pollutants” (HAP). The application goes on to reveal that it is designated as a Title V polluter which will produce an estimated (on a good day) over 1,500 tons of pollution each year in the Erie community, translating into just over 4 tons of gas and particulate matter per day. This is in conjunction with two other Title V polluters in the Erie city limits already in operation.

Does the Erie community need this kind of “business investment?”

'It's my home. It's my neighborhood. It's my city. I think I need better assurances than they have given so far,' said Dzuricky, an East Sixth Street resident.

'We are not going away,' Dzuricky said. 'We are still mobilizing. We are in this for the long haul.'

Tim Reim, representative of the local Green Party, and other K.E.E.P. officials also challenged the contention that the type and volume of pollutants the plant would emit would not represent a health threat.

Reim stated, 'How do you dump 229 tons of particulate matter containing things like dioxins in the air and tell the community it is not going to have an effect?'

'Erie must be in the forefront of good environmental standards,' he said. 'This is not an anti-business resolution. This is a pro-environment resolution. Are we willing to jeopardize future businesses, and most importantly are we willing to jeopardize our own citizens for 60 jobs? I'm interested in the health, safety and welfare of residents,' Cappabianca said. 'I want to protect the air in Erie.'

These are the words of our courageous City Councilperson, Pat Cappabianca, backed by a second Erie Councilperson, Jessica Horan-Kunco, in response to a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System Ordinance (CEMS) crafted by Mike Ewall to address the environmental needs of the citizens of Erie.

Six separate surrounding local township governments have publicly stated their opposition to the construction of the tire-burning plant.

And yet the corporate criminals who place profit over people persist in its plans to build the plant in Erie. Its original cost projection has sky-rocketed from an estimated $90 million to now $350 million, while shedding possibly 30 of its projected 60 long-term jobs.

Concerns about possible tire fires, rail and truck traffic issues, local ammonia on-site storage and local tourism, along with regional grape-growers concerns continue to beleaguer the plans of the proposed tire-burning plant’s local construction and out-of-town investors.

K.E.E.P. has had enormous success in garnering support among its many aroused citizenry. Community inspired raffles, fundraisers and anonymous donors have given a growing group of dedicated activists the incentive to continue the fight.

A recent Erie City zoning hearing board ruling which found against a preliminary approval of ERE’s plans has further enhanced K.E.E.P.’s standing in the community as a viable force against the forces of environmental degradation.

In addition, the Erie County Medical Society released a statement this last month which read in part: “…the Erie County Medical Society is concerned that simply meeting DEP standards will not adequately define the health risk to our citizens over time. It is our position that an independent health impact assessment be obtained to further delineate the burning facility.
In other words, an independent health impact assessment study of the data should be conducted before the PA DEP rules to give ERE, LLC its valued air-quality permit.

What can we do to help K.E.E.P. in Erie? Go to:
Or contact Tim Reim , 2708 W. 33rd Street, Erie, PA 16506(814) 838-1193, (814) 572-6653 – cell,

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