By David Ward on 12 August 2009
Have you been wondering about why our Mayor, Bernard Carvalho Jr. seems to have a disconnect between his stated support for curbside recycling while not proposing any funding for a MRF and a recycling coordinator? Wonder no more. This appears to be clearly on track towards failure. Of course, curbside recycling will not work without a MRF and a Recycling Coordinator, two critical components. And why, you ask, should curbside recycling be designed to fail? Because all our trash is not enough to feed the waste to energy incinerator (WTE).
Failure is the best way to silence the local environmentalists and still claim to have met campaign promises. When asked about why the County chose not to have a Recycling Coordinator position filled and build a MRF, the mayor's response: "...the bottom line is to do the low hanging fruit first, but also keep looking at the bigger picture.”
Looking at the bigger picture is what we all need to do. Connecting the dots has not been made easy because the Mayor and the powers at KIUC do not want to feel the heat from their incinerator plans until funding is locked in. Thanks to Ken Stokes for pointing out that KIUC has been hiding the ball until forced by the PUC to post their IRP on their web site.
Black & Veatch submitted their Integrated Resource Plan to Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative. Table 1-6. KIUC Preferred Expansion Plan.
1.9.6 Mass Burn Waste to Energy Project
The 7.3 MW mass burn waste to energy project is in the early development phase. Although project development work for this particular project has not started, there have been other developments on Kauai that directly impact the project:
In March 2007, the County released an integrated solid waste management plan that, in part, recommended the construction of a waste-to-energy plant to help handle the island's refuse.
Despite these positive signs, development of the waste to energy project has not been active, and the project is not forecast to come online in the IRP until 2015.
Despite the long lead-time, KIUC will need to begin working closely with the County and other interested stakeholders to pursue development of this option in a manner that balances economically.
Randy Hee at the KIUC Quarterly Update on 04 August 2009 gave some indication that there was now little confidence in their Preferred Expansion Plan due to the current unanticipated economic down turn. He said that any WTE project would have to funded and built by Kauai County.
One has to wonder if the leadership at KIUC or in the Office of the Mayor has read the first report released on the the Kaua`i Energy Sustainability Plan that was posted 04 June 2009 by the SENTECH Hawaii Team. It is very clear from reading this report that there will not be a County/KIUC WTE in 2015.
The Basics of Waste to Energy on Kaua`i report states that : Incineration is the only waste treatment technology now in use on a utility scale in the USA. No new WTE plants have come online in the USA since year 2000.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires new facilities to use the "maximum achievable control technology." Meeting this standard takes the development of new WTE projects out of the realm of financial viability.
Incineration WTE must take advantage of economies of scale to be cost effective, meaning that they need to process 500-1000 tons per day or more of trash. This is significantly more waste than Kauai currently or will ever produce. in 2005 the Kekaha landfill received 89,156 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW), for an average of 244 tons per day. If all the recycled materials were added to the burn pile, only a total of 319 tons would have been available to incinerate. A global economic depression and peak oil will all but guaranty that we will have declining amount of trash to dispose of.
Timing Unit Continuous Demand Side Mgt. 2011 Kekaha Landfill 2012 1x1 Combined Cycle 2013 Wind 2013 Direct Fired Biomass 2015 Hydro (mult. units) 2015 MSW Mass Burn
But according to leading ecologists speaking this week in Albuquerque at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, few of us realise that the main cause of the current environmental crisis is human nature.
More specifically, all we're doing is what all other creatures have ever done to survive, expanding into whatever territory is available and using up whatever resources are available, just like a bacterial culture growing in a Petri dish till all the nutrients are used up. What happens then, of course, is that the bugs then die in a sea of their own waste.
One speaker in Albuquerque, epidemiologist Warren Hern of the University of Colorado at Boulder, even likened the expansion of human cities to the growth and spread of cancer, predicting "death" of the Earth in about 2025. He points out that like the accelerated growth of a cancer, the human population has quadrupled in the past 100 years, and at this rate will reach a size in 2025 that leads to global collapse and catastrophe.
But there's worse. Not only are we simply doing what all creatures do: we're doing it better. In recent times we're doing it even faster because of changes in society that encourage and celebrate conspicuous and excessive consumption.
"Biologists have shown that it's a natural tendency of living creatures to fill up all available habitat and use up all available resources," says William Rees of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. "That's what underlies Darwinian evolution, and species that do it best are the ones that survive, but we do it better than any other species," he told me prior to the conference.
Although we like to think of ourselves as civilised thinkers, we're subconsciously still driven by an impulse for survival, domination and expansion. This is an impulse which now finds expression in the idea that inexorable economic growth is the answer to everything, and, given time, will redress all the world's existing inequalities.
The problem with that, according to Rees and Hern, is that it fails to recognise that the physical resources to fuel this growth are finite. "We're still driven by growing and expanding, so we will use up all the oil, we will use up all the coal, and we will keep going till we fill the Petri dish and pollute ourselves out of existence," he says.
But there's another, more recent factor that's making things even worse, and it's an invention of human culture rather than an evolved trait. According to Rees, the change took place after the second world war in the US, when factories previously producing weapons lay idle, and soldiers were returning with no jobs to go to.
American economists and the government of the day decided to revive economic activity by creating a culture in which people were encouraged to accumulate and show off material wealth, to the point where it defined their status in society and their self-image.
Rees quotes economist Victor Lebow as saying in 1955: "Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate".
In today's world, such rhetoric seems beyond belief. Yet the consumer spree carries on regardless, and few of us are aware that we're still willing slaves to a completely artificial injunction to consume, and to define ourselves by what we consume.
"Lebow and his cronies got together to 'create' the modern advertising industry, which plays to primitive beliefs," says Rees. "It makes you feel insecure, because the advertising industry turned our sense of self-worth into a symbolic presentation of the possessions we have," he told me. "We've turned consumption into a necessity, and how we define ourselves."
The result is a world in which rampant consumption in rich countries is rapidly outstripping the resources in the world needed to satisfy demand.
For evidence, Rees developed in 1992 a process called ecological footprint analysis (EFA). Produced by combining national consumption statistics with calculations of the resources needed to meet reported consumption patterns, EFA generates figures that conveniently demonstrate where consumption is least sustainable, and how fast finite material resources are being used up (calculate your own here).
Rees's latest figures, presented in Albuquerque, show that, globally, we're already in "overshoot", consuming 30 per cent more material than is sustainable from the world's resources. At present, 85 countries exceed their domestic "bio-capacities", compensating for their lack of local material by depleting stocks elsewhere, in countries that have "surpluses" because they're not consuming as much.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the encouragement from Lebow, North Americans are the most consumptive, eating resources equivalent to 9.2 global average hectares per capita.
The world can only supply 2.1 global average hectares per person, so already, Americans are consuming four times what the Earth can sustainably supply. "North Americans should be taking steps to lower their eco-footprints by almost 80 per cent, to free up the 'ecological space' for justifiable growth in the developing world," says Rees.
The worrying thing is that if everyone on Earth adopted American lifestyles overnight, we would need four extra worlds to supply their needs, says Rees.
We haven't yet mentioned climate change or global warming. What's to be done? Marc Pratarelli of Colorado State University at Pueblo believes we need to snap out of our sleepwalking and begin to take real steps to cut consumption. "We have our heads in the sand, and are in a state of denial," he says. "People think: 'It won't happen to me, or be in my lifetime, or be that bad, so what's the point of change'."
Without global management, destruction will continue, producing food and energy "crunches" that make the credit crunch look like a tea party.
"We need to learn to live within the means of nature," says Rees. "That means sharing and redistribution of wealth, and for that we need leadership at the highest level to understand that the competitive instinct and the drive for power and more resources is mutually destructive, so governments must act in our collective interest."
From the bottom up, there are the glimmers of global grassroots organisations campaigning for global justice and global solutions, such as the internet-based justice organisation Avaaz, which collects email votes for petitions on issues of international or personal justice.
Desire to acquire
Solving the other problem – the advertising that feeds our desire to acquire – might be more tricky. In an ideal world, it would be a counter-advertising campaign to make conspicuous consumption shameful.
"Advertising is an instrument for construction of people's everyday reality, so we could use the same media to construct a cultural paradigm in which conspicuous consumption is despised," he says. "We've got to make people ashamed to be seen as a 'future eater'."
Whether we're capable of such a counter-revolution is doubtful, both because of our state of personal denial and because of the huge power of industry to continue seducing us.
"In effect, globalism and consumerism have succeeded in banishing moderation and sanctifying greed, thereby liberating Homo economicus from any moral or ethical constraints on consumption," says Rees.
Pararelli is even more pessimistic. The only hope, he says, is a disaster of immense scale that jolts us out of our denial. "My sense is that only when the brown stuff really hits the fan will we finally start to do something."
|Docket Title||NOTICE OF INTENT TO FILE AN APPLICATION FOR A GENERAL RATE INCREASE. APPLICATION FILED ON JUNE 30, 2009.|
|Docket Type Code||Rate Case|
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