Alert 671: Delaware environmental laws under attack by “Clean Air Council”

BASF, with help from “Clean Air Council,” seeks to roll back Del. environmental laws, build highly-polluting “biomass” incinerator in Newport, DE
Public outrage needed NOW.  See below for action steps.


Today, January 12, 2010, the Delaware General Assembly goes back into session.  As usual, this presents both threats and opportunities.

Delaware has few environmental distinctions.  One of these few is a strong law against incinerators.

Since 2000 this law, championed by State Senator David McBride, has protected thousands of people from death and disease caused by air pollution.

Special interests don’t stop conniving to weaken it.  The Delaware Solid Waste Authority wants a garbage incinerator so the law should be weakened….  Ciba in Newport wants a “biomass” burner so the law should be weakened….  Some chicken processor wants to burn chicken poop so the law should be weakened….  The excuses never end.  The attacks on the law and on Green Delaware never end.

Things are getting worse because global warming is being used as a new excuse for all sorts of horrible ideas including greenhouse-gas-belching burners.  Absurd?  Yes, but such is policy making in special-interest-controlled Washington, DC.

The latest attack comes from Ciba, a subsidiary of the big German chemical company BASF. (The plant used to belong to DuPont back in the days when DuPont was a global leader in the chemical industry.)  BASF want to burn wood, and, many suspect, plant wastes.  Ciba is trying to frame this issue as a decision to be made by the Town of Newport, because Ciba is by far the biggest influence in the small town.  But nobody wants to give solid information on what the emissions would be.  The idea is for people to agree to it, and find our afterwards what the emissions would be.  For recent background see
Alert 654: Ciba (BASF) rolls out a new air pollution threat to your health .

When the scheme was rolled out last year, opposition was strong.  State legislators promised not to act at the time, but we knew the evil burner genie would try again to come out of the bottle.

That time is now, and Ciba has adopted a clever ploy:  get an “environmental” organization to front for the burner.  The chosen stooge is “Clean Air Council” (CAC) out of Philadelphia.

CAC has an ugly history in Delaware.  Jake Kreshtool of Delaware Citizens for Clean Air remembers that CAC “came down from Philadelphia [in the 1980s] to testify in favor of a garbage incinerator we were opposing.  Thanks a lot…..“  That burner was shut down after belching out hydrochloric acid, other air pollutants, and “extremely high levels of total dioxins.“  New we say that CAC didn’t apologize for it’s mistake,or help shut down the burner?

In 2005 Clean Air Council’s Delaware Rep, or former rep, John Kearney, instigated a “task force” (excluding Green Delaware, of course) with the apparent intent of promoting garbage incineration again in Delaware.  This effort failed, but created immense bad feelings and contributed to the collapse of Common Cause in Delaware.

More recently, CAC’s reps in Delaware have built a following among pols and regulators and polluters by sucking up.  CAC says it’s gotten money from Bluewater Wind, DNREC, New Jersey and Pennsylvania regulators, the Energy Foundation, and many others.

In December of 2007 the “Contaminated” Air Council rolled out a report entitled “Burning Biomass in Delaware?  Energy Needs and Environmental Impacts  A report to the Citizens of Newport, DE” This purports to be objective and informative, but it’s really just a promotional piece for “biomass” incineration.

It was presented to the Newport Town Council at a meeting where “members of the public were not allowed to ask any questions,” according to Pat Todd of the League of Women Voters.

(Other authors of the report are Al Denio, identified with the American Chemical Society but often associated with the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Gwen Ottinger of the “Chemical Heritage Foundation” of Philadelphia.  But we think the Contaminated Air Council is really the responsible party.)

The report is full of distortions and misrepresentations.  See the comments on the posted copy for details.

A few key points:

o       The report claims the burner would burn “logging residue,” “the cleanest form of biomass,” and “the best option for protecting  the health and air quality of Newport residents.” [Actually, this would be a dirtier fuel than coal.]

o       The authors admit they don’t know what would come out of the smokestack, so they propose “…it be approached as an experiment” [on our lungs!]

o       They then propose “Only if the conversion does not adversely affect air quality [as measured by regulators and polluters] should other plants be allowed.” [But of course this one would carry on polluting for decades.]

Are you gagging yet?  For more information on the reality of ‘biomass” incinerators see:

Please take action now:

Contact Joe Minott, Executive Director, “Clean” Air Council. Tel: 215-567-4004, extension 116., ,   Ask Minott to withdraw the report and remove Jim Black from Delaware.  Delaware has enough home-grown industrial-stooge “environmentalists” and doesn’t need carpetbaggers from Philadelphia.

Contact co-author Allen Denio and ask him to withdraw the report: Tel.: 302.455.0389, Alvaldenio .

Contact Jody Roberts at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and him to withdraw the report:  Tel.: 215.873.8281 , JRoberts .

Contact Mike Spencer, Mayor of Newport, DE. . Ask him not to endanger the health of City residents with a polluting incinerator.

If you live in Delaware:

Contact you state legislator and ask that the incineration ban remain intact:  Contact information .

Contact Governor Markell:, 1.800.292.9570 , Ask him to oppose any changes in Delaware’s anti-incineration laws.

If you belong to or support any Delaware organizations, ask them to oppose any changes in Delaware’s anti-incineration laws.

There is also a rumor that a ruling is being sought from the Delaware Attorney General that the existing law doesn’t cover such a biomass incinerator.  We are checking that out.

Alan Muller

2 thoughts on “Alert 671: Delaware environmental laws under attack by “Clean Air Council”

  1. dorothy cope (williams)

    so wonderful that the organization I started in l963 is still fighting. I was thrilled to read this account, yet saddened you still have same old, same old to fight. In l963, it was DuPont that was trying to call all the shots. Thank you for your efforts, and hello to Jake Kreshtool and anyone else who might have met in my living room in l963 and after

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