A Democratic Illinois state representative quietly slipped five words into the definition of renewable energy in a bill that would clear the way for a power company to burn tires as a way to reap green energy credits. Representative David Miller, who is running for state Comptroller, inserted the words "incineration of burning tires" into the definition of renewable energy in a measure that was intended to promote wind and solar energy. The new wording was apparently intended to benefit Geneva Energy, which operates an incinerator located in Miller's district in Ford Heights, about 25 miles south of downtown Chicago. More than 95 percent of Ford Heights' population is black, and half live in poverty. The tire burner has a long history of pollution problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited the plant four times since 2006 for exceeding limits on emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. If the legislation passes with the newly-inserted wording, it will give tire burning -- which generates large amounts of toxic air pollution -- the same status as wind and solar power, which are pollution-free. Meanwhile, one of Miller's campaign TV ads for Comptroller touts him as a "Trusted Leader."
By Anne Landman on March 22, 2010