Here in Rhode Island, the company is spending $12,000 per month on lobbyists and has won support from labor with the promise of 300 to 500 construction jobs and 60 to 80 permanent jobs once the plant is up and running.

But environmental activists like Annie Costner, campaign organizer for Clean Water Action, say the state should be focused on dramatically improving its recycling rate — not burning the materials it could be reusing. "This is not renewable energy — you're taking resources out of the system," she said.

Gilman, of Covanta, says that European countries and some American communities have improved their recycling rates while implementing waste-to-energy technology. The two approaches, he said, need not compete.

Green, he argues, is not what it used to be. We'll see if the legislature agrees.

 

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