State House Considers Tire Burning "Green"

By Lindsey Miller in News on May 4, 2010 8:40PM

2010_03_26_tire_fire.jpg The great state of Illinois is now one-third of the way closer to classifying tire burning as green energy alongside wind and solar power. The Illinois House has shrugged off common sense and voted 61-45 on Monday to add "incineration and tire burning" to the state's definition of renewable energy. If passed by the Illinois Senate and signed by Governor Pat Quinn, the new definition would allow south suburban tire incineration company Geneva Energy to receive state funds and loans reserved for green energy companies. Supporters of the bill say incineration is an ideal way to safely dispose of the millions of unused tires that pile up in Illinois annually. And it would provide Geneva Energy with funds to keep operating.

Opponents, though, point to the fact that the incinerator has been cited by the lllinois Environmental Protection Agency four times for air pollution violations since 2006. Oh, and tires have a lot of nasty chemicals that are released into the air when burned, such as carbon monoxide, butadiene, sulfur dioxide and styrene. The bill comes at a time when the U.S. EPA is investigating whether the location of the incinerator - small town called Ford Heights where 95 percent of the population is black and over half is living in poverty - is a violation of environmental justice laws. The incinerator currently employs 17 people, only four of which live in Ford Heights.