Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

welber interviews welber

“I’m very proud of that,” Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent said after looking through the climate assessment last week. “I’m very proud to be part of an initiation in a region that contains millions of people.”

— Neugent commenting on praise for four-county compact that produced the Southeast Regional Action Plan

Blue Paper

We want to welcome back environmentalist Michael Welber for another in-depth interview.

Welber

More like survivalist.

Blue Paper

Oh? And why is that?

Welber

You’ve probably been snoozing this month, which would actually be a good thing given the continuing inexplicable actions of some of our fine county commissioners.

Blue Paper

What is it this time? Did they buy another restaurant?

Welber

If only. No, they first gave a ten-year contract to Waste Management for trash pickup and transport throughout the county and then voted against mandatory recycling.

Blue Paper

So? What else is new? Does it really matter? Recycling is so 1980s.

Welber

Of course. However, the county committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (or GHG to the illuminati) by 20 percent by 2020. Take a look at the so-called Monroe County Climate Action Plan. Action plan. It says, among other things that Monroe should:

Revise the County solid waste disposal rate structure in order to maintain and enhance incentives, outreach programs, and other activities designed to increase recycling and composting. Renegotiate franchise arrangements and haul out contracts, where necessary, to maximize the efforts to reduce solid waste shipments to the mainland.

Priority: High Planning Horizon: Short-term

And the plan gives it a high priority within the near term. Not ten stinking years.

Blue Paper

Well, it says, “where necessary.”

Welber

They didn’t even give it a chance, did they? By giving Waste Management a ten-year contract with no out, they could hardly renegotiate a franchise agreement to reduce solid waste shipments to the mainland. In fact, their new contract specifies a continuation of two trash pickups a week. For ten years, bubba. That means twice as many truck trips on county roads with twice the diesel emissions from those huge trucks.

Blue Paper

What would you have them do, oh wise one?

Welber

Hope you’re not being sarcastic. You usually are. If they really want to reduce the amount of trash – and they clearly don’t care – then you have to force people to reduce the amount of trash they put out.

Blue Paper

Sounds socialistic. How would you do that?

Welber

The simplest way is pay as you throw. The more you put out at the curb the more you pay. Not so coincidentally it’s also in their Climate Inaction Plan. It says,

S-2.2 Consider a Pay-As-You-Throw residential solid waste program.

A pay-as-you-throw program will encourage residents to recycle and to conduct at-home yard waste and composting to avoid user fees for excessive solid waste or organics. An accompanying educational effort can greatly assist residents adapt to the program. The County can use the composted material in conjunction with construction debris for fill in sea level rise adaptation efforts.

Priority: High Planning Horizon: Mid-term

Blue Paper

It says “consider.” That isn’t a requirement.

Welber

Did you hear them “consider” this idea? No. The more Waste Management hauls out, the more money the company makes.

Blue Paper

Oooh. That’s a strong charge. Are you making a connection here?

Welber

You decide. And then, of course, the commission won’t even “consider” mandatory recycling. Everyone knows that the education plan in Key West was a big flop and that the only way they increased their recycling rates significantly was by reducing trash pickups to once a week. Not surprisingly, business interests came first in Key West also as they just returned to twice weekly trash collection after a very successful but short-lived period when people could only put out trash once weekly. It boggles the mind.

Blue Paper

Is that in the Climate, as you call it, Inaction Plan?

Welber

You have been snoozing haven’t you? Yes, the plan calls for mandatory recycling for commercial businesses. The plan says,

S-2.4. Develop a program for mandatory recycling for commercial (i.e. non-residential) businesses, government, agencies, and organizations. In 2009 only 14% of commercial units/properties in Monroe County participated in scheduled recycling.In 2010 only 19% of commercial units/properties participate in scheduled recycling.

Priority: High Planning Horizon: Short-term

Blue Paper

That has a high priority also I see.

Welber

And a short-term horizon. To translate for the county commissioners who seem a little dense about this subject, soon. Do it soon. And make it mandatory. The BOCC can’t even make home recycling, which is about the easiest and lowest level thing residents can do to reduce our GHG emissions mandatory. It’s even easier than screwing in an energy saving light bulb. Except maybe for our county commissioners.

Blue Paper

So where do we go from here?

Welber

Based upon what happened with the trash contracts something that politicians call low hanging fruit – a well over-used phrase – it doesn’t seem likely that the county commissioners will do anything significant about climate change other than talk, something they all love to do. Making the critically important changes for trash collection and recycling are the easy tasks. Can you imagine the BOCC tackling the difficult challenges?

Blue Paper

Um, probably not.

Welber

But they do love to take credit for what they aren’t doing. It’s what politicians do best.

An article in the Keynoter said that,

Through collaboration of county, state and federal agencies, a comprehensive action plan was developed that included hundreds of actions. Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact in 2009. In 2011, the counties produced the Southeast Regional Action Plan, which proposes strategies for everything from protecting the water supply and mitigating the impacts of sea-level rise, to conducting public outreach and reducing fuel consumption.”

That’s what Neugent said he was proud of. I guess he doesn’t realize that the county actually has to take action, some sort of action, to delay sea level rise even a little.

Blue Paper

You’re cute when you’re annoyed.

Welber

Small consolation.

Blue Paper

Thanks for your time again, Mr. Survivalist. Looking forward to another chat.

Welber

If we’re lucky.

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One thought on “Welber on Welber: Special Interest Trumps Climate Action

  1. I liked the whine column comment, I paraphrase, ” Why doesn’t the garbage truck drive around twenty-four-seven in a constant mission to grab all those nasty fish guts to prevent anyone having to smell that nastiness…” People were getting used to once a week pick up in Key West, but noooooo…It was just to HARD to deal with…

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