[img_assist|nid=141598|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=199|height=274]In a move that would shock even the most cynical government observer, the Illinois legislature is poised to add the “burning of tires” to a list of renewable energy programs eligible for clean energy credits. This special treatment for tire incineration is the result of measures put forth by Rep. David Miller (D), who just happens to represent the district where the state’s sole tire incinerator is located. That incinerator, Geneva Energy, is located in Ford Heights, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, where more than 95 percent of the population is black and half live in poverty.
The measure, if passed, will allow Geneva Energy to earn valuable green energy credits in return for their burning of tires, a process which releases deadly pollutants, such as benzene, butadiene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Of course, the intent of the original legislation was to reward and encourage the production of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. In Illinois, energy companies must get at least 10 percent of their electricity from green sources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025.
While millions of old tires must be disposed of each year, better alternatives to incineration include shredding them for reuse in asphalt, playground cushioning, and athletic tracks, among other things.
Rep. Miller, who is currently running for state comptroller, has recently removed his name from the bill after a lobbying effort by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) focused attention on this legislated loop-hole. “This is the sort of cynical legislative maneuvering that makes people question the credibility of our elected officials,” ELPC head Howard Learner stated. “Burning tires is not clean, renewable energy by any credible definition.”