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Burning trash is not recycling — it’s air pollution

Delivery to Governor Gavin Newsom
3 Days Remain

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What’s At Stake

Incinerators pollute the environment and harm public health by converting waste into harmful air emissions, greenhouse gases, and toxic ash. There are two remaining waste incinerators in California, and both are located in communities of color and low-income communities that already face high pollution burdens. This is not a coincidence — it’s an intentional act of environmental racism. Waiting on Governor Newsom’s desk right now is a bill that will address the long-standing injustice of locating municipal solid waste incinerators in these communities and will help California to reach its waste management and climate goals. All Governor Newsom needs to do is sign it. Urge him to make this bill a law today.

Despite the public health and environmental harms caused by these polluting facilities, California encourages local jurisdictions to send their waste to be burned at these incinerators to claim “diversion credits” — credits towards meeting California’s goals of a zero-waste future. By offering these credits for burning trash, the state is inaccurately equating incineration with zero-waste strategies like recycling and composting, that also qualify for the same credits.

Except, burning trash is not recycling. It’s time we urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 1857 into law and remove these diversion credits and fund investments in real zero-waste infrastructure and programs in frontline communities most impacted by incinerators.

Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) Incinerator in Long Beach, Calif.
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) Incinerator in Long Beach, Calif.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.