Waste management experts from the non-profit Institute for Energy and Resource Management are calling King County’s assessment of the Cedar Hills Landfill a “boondoggle,” and a waste of time and money in favor of continuing what they believe is poor policy.
Philipp Schmidt-Pathmann, President and CEO of the Institute for Energy and Resource Management, said King County’s recently completed Environmental Impact Statement for “potential” expansion of the Cedar Hills Landfill is yet another example of the County going through the motions but having the conclusion decided well beforehand.
“If you look at the timetable the County set out months ago, you will see that the last item is ‘Construction of new landfill area within the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill property.’ There was never any question, regardless of public sentiment or scientific findings.” he said.
The Cedar Hills Landfill environmental impact statement comes after a growing consideration for landfill alternatives such a Waste-To-Energy, which some county leaders have recently pushed for.
Schmidt-Pathmann cited EPA studies that suggest landfilling is the “least desirable” waste management technique and he also claims landfilling is more expensive than most people consider because of the hidden and “perpetual” costs.
Schmidt-Pathmann has conducted studies specific to King County’s adoption of an integrated waste management system that does not rely fully on landfilling as it does now. He also led the team that helped Los Angeles adopt a Waste-To-Energy program.
He says landfills are a significant source of methane leaks which are a greenhouse gas negatively impacting climate change conditions. He said landfills in California contribute roughly 40 percent of the state’s methane emissions, more than both livestock and agriculture.
Schmidt-Pathmann has advocated for an Integrated Waste Management System, which utilizes multiple waste management strategies including source reduction and reuse, improved recycling and composting, energy and material recovery from waste streams and better treatment and disposal. He said an integrated waste strategy could be implemented by 2030, could save billions of dollars in the coming decades and would reduce the environmental impacts of our waste system.
“Anyone who cares about the environment and their property tax bill should be concerned about this,” said Schmidt-Pathmann. “It is critical that you contact your County Councilmember and let them know you don’t want any more public money sunk into the ‘landfill liability’ including transfer stations. There is a better – and cheaper – solution.”