1) Handle all of Palo Alto's organic waste locally
Organic waste includes Palo Alto's residentially and commercially-generated food scraps, yard trimmings and sewage sludge. These organics should be collected and processed in our community and used to generate clean energy and produce soil amendments to the greatest extent possible.
2) Move forward with a local green energy project
The climate crisis and financial downturn demand action now, not in decades. Measure E’s mandate supports substantive next steps without delay. Offsite options with long-distance hauling should no longer be studied.
3) Maintain our existing local composting operation
We should continue our current composting operation and integrate it into the long-term green energy facility. This carries forward the Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendation, keeps our agency permits in place, saves hundreds of thousands of vehicle-trip miles per year, and continues our local compost give-away.
4) Shut down the incinerator as soon as possible
Replace the sewage sludge incinerator with a green energy facility. The incinerator is the largest energy consumer and the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Palo Alto. It emits toxic air pollutants and squanders a potential green energy resource.
5) Conduct a balanced and objective economic analysis
Any economic analysis should be framed using the project's 30-year anticipated lifetime, and not be distracted by a narrow focus on first year costs where the ultimate advantages of a green energy project are hidden.
6) Decide not to charge rent
Other significant facilities, such as the airport and the Regional Water Quality Control Plant, do not pay rent. Measure E dedicated the 10 acres for energy and compost. Charging rent is not required and would only result in transferring money from the Refuse Fund to the General Fund, at the expense of ratepayers who are already experiencing major price increases.
7) Seize the opportunity to educate
Conversion of organic waste into green energy and compost will continue Palo Alto’s leadership in addressing climate change and zero waste, serve as a model for other communities, and provide important educational opportunities.