Burn Ban’s Burning Me Up

bonfireLeave it to the state.

The cost of trash removal is rising.

Heck, the cost of everything is rising!

But the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is moving in on the small towns to ban all outside burning – with, they say, limited exceptions.

After a lengthy trip through the DEC Website, I finally found those exceptions.

Cover crops, grape vines and orchard trimmings. That’s all we’ll be able to burn outdoors if the law goes through. No more yard waste. No more paper.

Nada. Nothing.

I’ve heard a rumor that we’ll be allowed to keep our campfires, although the complicated DEC site says nothing about keeping up with traditions. What makes this proposal so rich is the assertion that it will drastically reduce the pollutants in our air.

Have they been to a small town in New York State?

Our air may be filled with toxins, but last time I checked the biggest complaints lodged in Sullivan County about air quality came from the folks living… wait for it… near the landfill!

You know, where we’ll be putting all the non-burned products we now have to dispose of thanks to the powers that be in Albany.
Of course, we’ll have to get that trash to the landfill. And that means garbage trucks. Lots of ’em.

According to a study by national environmental research organization INFORM in 2002, garbage trucks rank as one of the worst air pollutant offenders in the nation.

“Garbage trucks use more fuel than any other type of vehicle – averaging 8,600 gallons per year – except for tractor-trailers and transit buses (which use 11,500 gallons and 10,800 gallons on average per year, respectively),” according to the folks at INFORM.

What’s more, the researchers concluded, “While heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles, including garbage trucks, make up only seven percent of vehicles on the road, they contribute 69 percent of on-road fine particulate pollution and 40 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions.”

Ah yes, but the DEC claims the decrease in health costs generated by their new plan will make up for any costs the rural areas are going to suffer from a burning ban that goes across the board.

We’re trading one pollutant for another, increasing the stress on folks living hand-to-mouth, and we’re going to see a dip in healthcare costs? Yes, they live in Albany. We live here. And, as the DEC’s Website says, “The proposed revision may have a greater impact in rural areas.” We have until July 10 to officially lodge our complaints with the state.

I’ll keep you posted. Until then, I’ll be stocking up on marshmallows.

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Image via Paul Huxley/Flickr

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