Climate and waste-reduction groups ask US Conference of Mayors to reject incineration as “clean energy”

(Download this letter here)
June 25, 2017

To the Membership of the U.S. Conference of Mayors:

We are extremely grateful to the USCOM for considering a resolution to continue meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement with zero-emissions energy.  Action at the municipal level is vital to delivering on our climate promises.

However, it was dismaying to learn that the trash incineration industry is lobbying for rejection of the zero-emissions resolution.[1]  We thank the energy committee for having approved a clean version that does not include incineration, and strongly urge USCOM to approve only zero-emissions energy as a goal.  Waste incinerators depend on burning high-carbon materials for heat content, including fossil fuel-derived plastics, and their low efficiency makes them bigger carbon polluters than coal plants.  Incineration is a disproportionately dirty technology that serves as a disincentive for waste reduction and recycling, and it doesn’t deserve to be treated as renewable energy.

Global development of annual CO2 emissions. The blue group of mitigation scenarios constrains temperature rise consistent with the Paris goals, but requires immediate reductions in emissions.[2]

Climate modeling shows we must immediately reduce emissions if we are to avoid dangerous global temperature increase. Thus, we can’t afford to have high-emissions garbage incineration competing with wind, solar and other zero-emissions technologies as we move to a clean energy future.

Thank you for your leadership on climate change. We are all counting on you.


Jane Williams, Executive Director
California Communities Against Toxics, California
Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy
Californians Against Waste, California
Monica Wilson, Associate Director, U.S. office
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, California
Mr. Ara Marderosian, Executive Director
Sequoia ForestKeeper, California
Ruth Abbe, President
Zero Waste USA, California
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Green Delaware, Delaware
John Harder, President
Zero Waste Kauai, Hawaii
Miriam Gordon, Policy Director
UPSTREAM Policy Institute, Maine
Greg Smith, Director
Community Research, Maryland
Greg Sawtell, Leadership Organizer
United Workers, Maryland
Don West, President and Co-Founder
Waste Not! Carroll, Maryland
Jesse Lederman, Director, Public Health and Environmental Initiative
Arise for Social Justice, Massachusetts
Susan Theberge
Climate Action Now, Western MA, Massachusetts
Mary S. Booth, Director
Partnership for Policy Integrity, Massachusetts
Michael Kellett, Executive Director
RESTORE: The North Woods, Massachusetts
Michaelann Bewsee, Steering Committee
Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, Massachusetts
Neil Seldman, Co-Founder
Institute for Local Self Reliance, Minnesota
Nancy Hone, Founder
Neighbors Against the Burner, Minnesota
Susan Hubbard, Founder
Nothing Left to Waste & Eureka Recycling, Minnesota
Blair Horner, Executive Director
New York Public Interest Research Group, New York
Joel Tyner, Dutchess County Legislator, D. #11
Real Majority Project & Working Class Dutchess, New York
Louis A Zeller, Executive Director
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, North Carolina
Heather Cantino, Steering Committee Chair
Athens County Fracking Action Network, Ohio
Lisa Arkin, Executive Director
Beyond Toxics, Oregon
Regna Merritt, Healthy Climate Program Director
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon
Bob Palzer, Co-Chair
Rogue Valley Citizens For Clean Air, Oregon
Ingrid M. Vila, President
CAMBIO, Puerto Rico
Rachel Smolker, US Coordinator
Biofuelwatch, Vermont
Jeffrey Morris, Economist
Sound Resource Management Group, Washington
Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director
Toxic-Free Future, Washington
Heather Trim, Executive Director
Zero Waste Washington, Washington
William Snape, Senior Counsel
Center for Biological Diversity, Washington, DC
Hannah Chang, Staff Attorney
Earthjustice, Washington, DC
Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director
Environmental Integrity Project, Washington, DC

[1] Kaufman, A.C. “The Trash Incinerator Industry Is Trying To Tank A Massive Renewable-Energy Effort.” Huffington Post, June 23, 2017. (

[2] From Figure 7.9, IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., et al]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Partnership for Policy Integrity