State Rejects MIRA Plea for Hundreds of Millions in Subsidies for Hartford Waste Incinerator
In a letter Tuesday, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes rejected a plan submitted by the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) for presenting a “false choice, and a bad deal” for taxpayers across the state, Hartford residents, and the environment.
MIRA’s statutorily required annual plan of operations, the first it has submitted in several years, presented the threat that if the state did not provide over $330 million in state subsidies to the struggling waste authority, MIRA would convert its waste-to-energy-plant to a massive transfer station to send trash to landfills.
Governor Ned Lamont does not support either option.
“I cannot support sending hundreds of millions of state taxpayer or electric ratepayer dollars to MIRA to attempt to keep a failing decades-old facility running, right here in Hartford where it impacts our vulnerable residents. A permanent trash export operation is also a nonstarter. It’s time for new ideas,” said Governor Lamont.
DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes called upon MIRA, which has statutory responsibility for carrying out the state’s solid waste management plan, to resubmit a plan that is consistent with its charge.
“I expect more from MIRA as a public sector trash authority,” said Commissioner Dykes. “Today, I asked that the MIRA board deliver to the state a real plan, fully exploring all of the options. MIRA was envisioned to be a partner for the state in implementing sound policy on waste, recycling, and the environment. I am hopeful they can deliver.”
MIRA’s difficulties stretch back to its previous incarnation as the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, which underfunded needed capital upgrades to its facilities, which handle up to 30 percent of the state’s trash. In a 2015 Request for Proposals, DEEP sought a private developer to help MIRA modernize its aging facilities and install certain environmental improvements. DEEP selected a developer in 2017 and MIRA advanced to negotiations, but previously unknown cost escalations based on the failing facility conditions made even a stripped-down version of the project uneconomic without significant state subsidy.
In 2018, MIRA’s Hartford facility was shut down for months, resulting in trash piling outside.