Find Out Which State Wants to Include Burning Tires in Its Definition of 'Renewable Energy'
Renewable energy standards, which fueled the growth of clean energy technologies like wind and solar, are under attack, as fossil fuel interests fight to protect their greenhouse gas-emitting, climate change-fueling turf. Ohio has frozen its renewable energy standards, but in Michigan, legislators have come up with a whole new angle: renewable dirty energy.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Yesterday, in the process of considering the extension of the state's renewable energy standards which expire next year, the Michigan House of Representatives passed HB 5205. It amends the state's Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act to include—burning tires? You bet! Or as the bill summary blandly puts it, "remove unnecessary burdens on the appropriate use of solid waste as a clean energy source."
The bill would "allow fuel manufactured from municipal solid waste, among other waste sources, to be a 'renewable energy resource' and revise the definition of the term, allow for the use of pyrolysis technologies [a method of making biofuels from a variety of waste products] in the generation of renewable energy, consider an advanced waste-to-energy facility to be a renewable energy system and remove the prohibition on granting a renewable energy credit for energy generated from municipal solid waste incinerators by exceeding the incinerator's nameplate capacity."
What does it mean when it says "revise the definition" of a "renewable energy resource"? It would delete the current definition—"a resource that naturally replenishes over a human, not a geological, time frame and that is ultimately derived from solar power, water power or wind power. Renewable energy resource does not include petroleum, nuclear, natural gas or coal. A renewable energy resource comes from the sun or from thermal inertia of the earth and minimizes the output of toxic material in the conversion of the energy." And it would add fuel manufactured from waste of any type, including hazardous industrial waste, railroad ties and tires. The bill is supported by Dow Industries and the Michigan Chemical Council.
According to bill sponsor Aric Nesbitt, chair of the House Energy and Technology Committee, new technologies approved in the bill would allow non-recyclable plastics and other materials to be converted to energy with low emissions.
Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, disagrees with Nesbitt's contention that burning these wastes can be done in an environmentally friendly way.
"The House should be focused on expanding true clean, renewable energy, not allowing polluters to burn tires and call it 'renewable energy,'" she said. "House Bill 5205 is nothing more than a dangerous plan to pollute our air, land and water. It sets a dangerous precedent by changing the scientific definition of renewable energy."
“Michiganders from both sides of the aisle want more clean, renewable energy and we should be taking steps to reduce pollution, not encourage more of it,” said Wibke Heymach, Midwest regional manager for Moms Clean Air Force. “Encouraging the burning of hazardous waste will create more pollution and more health problems for Michigan kids, families and seniors.”
Nesbitt responded with attacks on groups like Wozniak's and Heymach's.
"Whether it's tires or other things, that's already happening, and the environmentalists, these extreme environmental groups will stop at nothing to prevent our progress toward an all-of-the-above energy policy," he said.
And Nesbitt's fellow Republican legislator Ed McBroom said, "There are piles of tires out of the middle of nowhere ... let's do something with them."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
- San Antonio, Texas Unveils Largest Highway Crossing for Wildlife in ... ›
- Wildlife Crossings a Huge Success - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic Unless We Act Now ›
- There's a Heatwave at the Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
- Biden Likely Plans to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline on Day One ... ›
- Joe Biden Appoints Climate Crisis Team - EcoWatch ›