Wednesday, September 20, 2006

East Side Skewered

In today's NY Sun the paper reports that the controversial transfer station planned for the East Side at 91st Street has beaten back a legal challenge mounted by the local community. In announcing his decision Judge Stallman said that the plan "would further the city's announced, rational goals of promoting equity among the boroughs for responsibility over waste disposal, and reducing truck traffic."

That it might, but we're wondering what this has to do with the legal issues and why does a judge issue public policy announcements to support a judicial decision? In any case, although the community will appeal, it all confirms what we said to Community Board #8 two years ago: The community and its elected officials (Miller first and now Lappin) needed to devise an aggressive waste reduction plan that would have become a compelling argument against the need for additional transfer stations.

It would have also been a good selling point for those oversaturated communities who, with little chance of getting rid of the bulk of their facilities, are reduced to seeking racial schadenfreude through foisting a facility on the tony East Side. As Charles Barron told the Sun: "It's time for them to do their fair share."

Which brings us back to the Mayor's management Report which admits that recycling in the city is down by 20%. The strength of the SWMP has always been its promotion of environmental justice not in its development of a coherent waste reduction strategy. Still, all the signatories huffed and puffed about recycling and reducing waste exports. What are they going to do now? Kvell about the fact that they threw some garbage on the East Side as well?

Press Needs To Investigate this Entire Issue

It should start with the bankruptcy of the city's recycling plan and the fraudulent Office of Recycling that the SWMP has created. Next it should examine the export climate and start to get some realistic projections on just how much the city's reliance on exporting garbage is going to cost over the next 20 years.

Following this up, reporters should start to look at the export climate and whether the sites that the city relies on today are going to continue to be available in the foreseeable future. In conjunction with this examination there should be an evaluation of what it means for the city to be dependent on one or two garbage conglomerates.

Finally, as we have been advocating ad nauseum, the press should examine the cost-benefit equation surrounding the use of food waste disposers-not only for the commercial sector but for residential garbage as well. It is only through the systematic elimination of organic contaminants that real large scale recycling can be made a reality.

It is time for a real study to be done, one that takes the issue out of the hands of bureaucrats who have a trained incapacity to honestly evaluate the question. As the philosopher McIntyre has said; "Bureaucratic wisdom is one of the great moral fictions of our time." Once we understand the real export costs, and only then, we will be able to evaluate the benefits of using disposers.