Measure E Provides a Realistic Pathway Toward Sustainable Development

Dear Editor,

Last week, opponents of Measure E reiterated their central objection to the Palo Alto Green Energy & Compost Initiative: it entails “risk.” (Letters, Sept.16).

But the risks they identify are entirely speculative; their campaign’s strategy is to cast doubt on technologies already in use by other Bay Area communities, and which save ratepayers millions of dollars a year while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The status quo of Palo Alto’s waste management is by no means risk free.  On the contrary, our community’s organic refuse policies are unsustainable by nearly every meaningful measure, from their effects on public health, to the resources they monopolize without any positive return.

Rather than perseverate on hypothetical risks, Palo Altans should consider the following real and immediate ones:

  1.  Palo Alto is home to one of California’s last two sewage incinerators.  In 2009, emissions testing revealed it released more than six times the legal limit of Chromium into the atmosphere. Chromium is listed as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization; Erin Brockovich famously spent her career fighting Chromium contamination in poor communities.
  2. The ash produced by the incinerator is also a hazardous waste; our City spends $200,000/yr to dispose of it at a toxic dump in Kettlemen City—a low-income, largely Latino community in the Central Valley famous for its elevated levels of birth defects.
  3. We spend the equivalent of $1 million/yr to power our incinerator.

Walter Hays is absolutely correct when he says Measure E poses zero risk (Letters, Sept. 15).

If passed, Measure E will not cost ratepayers a single dime, nor will it allow any development without thorough environmental review.  Measure E simply expands our waste management options by making 10 acres (8%) of our landfill available as we consider the safest, most cost-effective policies going forward.

Vote YES on Measure E!

Thank you for your consideration,
Alexander Kates DiGiorgio, J.D.
Program Manager | Clean Coalition
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