Waste-to-Energy in the United States and Key Socioeconomic Factors
A primary purpose of this work is to assess the relationship between the community's decision about WTE technologies and various socioeconomic parameters. Subsequent chapters focus specifically on financial trends that have played a key role in the decision process and present the results of four in-depth case studies that address the relationship between decisions about WTE and key socioeconomic parameters but focus more importantly on the decision-making process itself.
This chapter examines at an aggregate level a variety of potential relationships between decisions about WTE and socioeconomic parameters. In other words, whereas the case studies examine conditions at four specific sites, this part of the work takes a more general perspective in that data were collected and analyzed for all existing and most scratched/abandoned facilities, as well as the states and communities in which those projects were considered. Numerous questions are addressed. For example, does the decision to adopt or abandon a WTE project correlate with socioeconomic characteristics such as per capita income, population density, population age, educational level, and type of commercial/industrial base? Is there a relationship between population growth and WTE? Are communities with relatively high-cost waste-disposal systems more likely to consider and adopt WTE? Is there a relationship between the existence of an active recycling program and the decision about WTE? Do state legislative mandates to recycle and reduce the quantity of MSW correlate with the adoption or rejection of WTE? Is the consideration and adoption of WTE more likely to occur in states with limited landfill capacity? Is a community's ambient air quality related to its decision about WTE? These are but some of the issues addressed in this chapter.