certainties is explored in more detail in the case-study portion of this work (Chapter 6).
Advocates of a WTE facility at the community level will likely acknowledge that the most severe threat to a WTE project is a fundamental breakdown in the local decision-making process, irrespective of information on potential environmental damages, regulatory and financial risks, and technology uncertainties. Cursory evidence suggests that advocates of WTE generally have not reached out to community leaders in the early stages of the decision process. And once opposition is mounted, as it is in almost all cases, WTE advocates generally react strongly to that opposition. The debate about WTE often, therefore, shifts from an assessment of the facts and options to an all-out war among sides that have staked their positions more on ideology than on an unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of the various alternatives. WTE opponents may view WTE advocates as symbols of big business, financial greed, and everything that is "wrong" with our systems for environmental control. WTE proponents often view opposition groups as fanatical environmentalists with little ability to grasp the "reality of the situation."
Kreith ( 1992b) writes that "One of the most important reasons for this conflict is a lack of confidence by the public in the safety and reliability of some waste management technologies" (p. 3). Possibly more important is the public's general lack of trust in certain sources of information, particular pieces of information, and the manner in which decisions are made. Evidence (see Chapter 6) suggests that the public's perception of conflicting information and the subsequent politicization of WTE in the United States has caused WTE to be rejected in many communities; and in those communities that have actively planned a facility, the decision to abandon or proceed with that project often is based more on the minimization of political damage and less on an unbiased assessment of the relative merits of alternative MSW management approaches.