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10.07.09

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Dump the waste (entirely)

The first question any Bohemian reader should ask is why all of this obsession with the mechanics and ownership of garbage ("Talkin' Trash," Green Zone, Sept. 9). We have the means, in the theory and practice of zero waste, to eliminate the creation of garbage entirely, but the county and the joint powers authority will absolutely do nothing to threaten the continued—indeed, increased—creation of garbage.

Is this what the citizens need? I don't think so. Wells and the county are working to extract money from our pockets for garbage management to hand over to garbage companies. Those figures of $30 million and $100 million so easily tossed around in the article are not Monopoly money but real money, taken out of the pockets of county citizens and placed into the bank accounts of the garbage companies. For what? To extract still more resources from an already exhausted planet to make still more goods to throw once more into a dump. With so much money sloshing around in the county, you might think they would be able to find a few grants, a few research proposals, a few trials to eliminate some of the garbage. But just try to find a few thousand dollars to eliminate garbage production. They will cry you a river of tears about how broke they are. But to study or foster every aspect of garbage—the coffers open and the money gushes out.

Politicians in this county like to pretend they are progressive, but on the subject of garbage, they would be right at home in the 1930s.

Zero waste is an approach that has nothing to do with recycling. It is the next generation of resource conservation after recycling. The lesson that I have learned after a lifetime studying ways to entirely eliminate waste is that wasting is built into our process and our products by conscious design, relying on the laziness of designers who think dumps are natural and acceptable. It is entirely possible to eliminate garbage entirely from broad swathes of consumer and industrial society if we would just stop pretending that dumps are inevitable. It is not even difficult. The most difficult part is to stand in the path of those who make fortunes from discard, laughing as the planet slides downhill.

Paul Palmer

President, Zero Waste Institute


Biogas ON THE CUSP

At the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors' hearing last Tuesday, there was very little discussion of the 7.5 MW green power plant at the Central Land Fill that is about to be sold to a private corporation, Republic Services of Arizona, for $2.7 million a year in royalties. The sale agreement only devotes six paragraphs to the sale of this $10 million power plant that belongs to the people of Sonoma County.

Newsweek recently ranked the buyer, Republic Services, as No. 448 out of America's largest 500 corporations on their "green" performance scale. Republic's "Green Policies and Performance Score" was 14.62 out of a possible 100.

The biogas power plant is a very important green power asset in Northern California. It generates more electricity than all the county buildings can use, enough clean electricity to power 10,000 homes. It uses free fuel, landfill biogas.

Now is not the time to sell the Central Landfill and its biogas power plant, because carbon costs are about to become a part of California's economy. When carbon is assigned a market value, the worth of our biogas power plant will soar and the county's taxpayers will not receive the benefit. Republic Services will.

Brian Hines

Santa Rosa


Not the best family investment?

Here's a great idea! Let's rip out seven and a half acres of apple trees and squeeze a giant grape-crushing bottling plant right in the middle of a rural residential neighborhood!

All we have to do is amend the general plan twice, rezone two parcels of land and issue special-use permits. We don't even have to do an environmental impact report. If anyone protests, we can hire "experts" to tell them that this project will have a less-than-significant impact on their lives and the environment. Scenic corridor? Operating 24/7? Traffic? Noise? Water? Drought? Fuhgettaboutit.

Please charge your board of supervisors representative to vote no on the Best Family Investors Group's proposed processing facility on the corner of Highway 116 and Occidental Road North of Sebastopol when they next meet on Oct. 20. The general plan and zoning laws protect the people. They do not exist to be manipulated and trivialized by special interests and our elected representatives. If this square peg gets hammered through this round hole, then what neighborhood in Sonoma County will be safe from the incessant march of the wine industry?

Power to the grapes? Power to the people!

Thomas Morabito

Sebastopol


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