Weekly News Bulletin: Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2009


Coal Ash Association Names New Director While Countering Regulatory Push

The American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) has named a new executive director in the midst of its heated battle with environmentalists over the regulation of coal ash after major spills at three Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) sites has raised public environmental health concerns. Thomas H. Adams, a concrete industry veteran, replaces David C. Goss, who is retiring from the association. The ACAA is launching a major offensive to lobby Congress in a campaign to counter environmentalists' efforts to label coal ash as hazardous waste, arguing that coal ash recycling can be an important carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction management strategy under the Obama administration's green energy and climate change plans.

Environmentalists argue that EPA hazardous waste determination for coal ash would actually help the coal ash industry by making ash recycling mandatory and moving industry away from so-called "wet" storage of the material. The coal ash industry is based on developing uses for recycling coal ash, such as using coal ash as a cement substitute. ACAA officials are holding meetings with lawmakers as well as newspaper editorial boards to counter the notion of coal ash being "toxic" and "hazardous," arguing that while coal ash does include heavy metals and substances such as arsenic, the quantities are negligible and have been proven small enough not to pose a health risk in need of more stringent regulation by EPA...Read More »



EPA Vows to Act on Coal Waste

Under intensifying pressure from all quarters, the head of EPA's Office of Solid Waste said they will "quickly" decide whether to regulate coal combustion waste (CCW) under federal waste law following three spills at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plants.

Environmentalists and industry have battled over CCW's designation as a hazardous or solid waste since the inception of waste laws in the late 1970s, but the EPA has only investigated designating it as a potential hazardous waste only to later back away, most notably in 2000 and again last year.

Now Matthew Hale, director of EPA's Office of Solid Waste, told the Washington Post on Jan. 16 that EPA "will be bringing this forward very quickly to reach a decision on the path forward, and that's the time when we'll be able to have a timetable." EPA is currently reviewing comments on a notice of data availability (NODA) that asks whether the agency should regulate CCW as a non-hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA)...Read More »



US Senate Panel Passes Tax Stimulus Bill For Renewable Energy

The US Senate Finance Committee approved an economic stimulus tax bill that would extend and expand tax credits for renewable energy on the same day that President Barack Obama visited Congress to drum up Republican support for the bill. The Finance Committee voted 13-6 to report the $275 billion package to the full Senate. It includes approximately $34 billion for renewable energy, transmission, efficiency and storage and the measure would extend the existing tax credits for renewable energy, and create two new ones for manufacturing and research and development. Production tax credits would be extended through 2013 in the case of geothermal, biomass and other renewable industries...Read More »



Senators Introduce Bill to Promote Biogas Production

Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) introduced a bill that would provide a tax incentive for creating energy-rich renewable gas from wastes such as animal waste, landfills and biomass thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process. "We already have the technology to break down these wastes to create biogas but it needs encouragement from the federal government to become a commercially-viable alternative to natural gas," Sen. Nelson said in a press release. The Biogas Production Incentives Act of 2009 would give biogas producers a tax credit of $4.27 for every million British thermal units (mm Btu) of biogas produced. It is cosponsored by Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan...Read More »



Lisa Jackson Confirmed as EPA Administrator

As expected, Lisa Jackson, President Obama's choice to run the federal EPA, was confirmed as its new administrator. She pledged to bring scientific thinking to EPA and to make the agency "follow the rule of law." She said her five main goals would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, deal with the risks posed by chemicals, clean up hazardous-waste sites and protect streams, rivers, lakes, bays, oceans and aquifers...Read More »



Obama Administration Considers Sub-Cabinet Posts at EPA

The Obama administration is reportedly moving closer to filling out several key sub-cabinet level slots at EPA. Among them is Grant Cope, who now works for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) on the Environment & Public Works Committee, to head the Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response. Prior to joining Boxer's committee, Cope worked for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group...Read More »



Activists and Industry Sue EPA Over CAFO Emissions Reporting Rule

Activist groups and the agriculture industry are suing EPA in order to overturn the agency's rule exempting all concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from reporting animal manure air emissions under Superfund law and exempting some CAFOs from reporting under right to know law. A coalition of six activist groups, including Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project and the Center for Food Safety argues that the EPA's decision to exempt facilities from reporting is arbitrary and illegal. Industry is challenging EPA's decision to require any CAFO's to report, arguing it violates a statutory exemption for the sector. EPA issued the rule in response to a petition from the poultry industry, which sought to exempt the sector's ammonia emissions from CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements due to liability concerns. The EPA broadened the exemption beyond the poultry industry to cover all animal agriculture sectors, including the pork and dairy industry, and included anexemption for hydrogen sulfide emissions in addition to ammonia. Activists argue that the EPA acted illegally in issuing the rule because CERCLA does not allow the agency to exempt an individual sector, like the agriculture industry, from reporting requirements. Furthermore, the EPA has not justified that public health will be protected...Read More »



New York Company Pursues Deal for SPSA

New York-based ReEnergy Holdings is taking its case for purchasing the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) directly to the eight member municipalities themselves after having its $205 million offer for the agency rejected for a second time without even a public hearing. ReEnergy is seeking operating data, legal and financial information in order to pursue its offer to buy all of SPSA's assets, including a power plant in Portsmouth and the regional landfill in Suffolk, and retire the agency's $240 million in debt. SPSA management rejected the offer despite its announcement earlier this month that it plans to double tipping fees to $245 per ton. ReEnergy representatives and affiliates are instead appealing to city leaders in the communities SPSA serves: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County, hoping to break the impasse...Read More »



Bill Gates Raises Stake in Republic Services to $1 Billion

Bill Gates investment vehicle Cascade Investments again increased its stake in Republic Services, disclosing last week its purchase of 500,000 more shares. Cascade paid about $12.7 million for the shares, or about $25.35 per share, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cascade now owns 40.6 million shares of the company, a stake valued at $1.05 billion...Read More »



Permit Approved for Suffolk, VA Landfill Gas Cogeneration Plant

The Suffolk, Virginia City Council recently approved a permit for Maryland-based GPC Green Energy LLC to build a $26 million cogeneration plant utilizing gas from the Southeastern Public Service Authority's (SPSA) regional landfill there. Plans call for the plant to be built at Ciba Specialty Chemicals in North Suffolk. The developers of the project have yet to negotiate a service contract with SPSA, which could receive up to $3.5 million a year for the rights to mine the methane gas. SPSA has provided landfill gas to Ciba for nearly a decade through a three mile pipeline. The methane provides a significant part of the chemical company's power. SPSA gets about $230,000 a year from the arrangement. The cogeneration plant would expand that deal, piping all available methane to Ciba and supplying the company with virtually all of its electricity...Read More »



Panda Ethanol to Sell West Texas Plant

Panda Ethanol, which is seeking bankruptcy protection for its Hereford biofuels subsidiary, said it has put its West Texas ethanol plant up for sale. The Dallas-based advanced renewable fuels producer said its subsidiary is in talks with a potential buyer for the still-under-construction distillery. Panda Ethanol did not name the potential buyer, but predicted a sale could be concluded in two to three months. The ethanol plant is slated to be the country's largest biomass-fuelled ethanol plant, capable of producing 115 million gallons per year from a feedstock of 38 million bushels of feedstock-grade corn per year into the renewable fuel. The plant will also use up to 1 billion pounds of cattle manure per year to fuel the plant's operations, rather than fossil fuels. Production was slated to begin later this year...Read More »



Company Will Use Landfill Gas to Create Elemental Hydrogen and Carbon

Southern California-based Catalyx Nanotech is looking for landfill sources of biogas to demonstrate its process of separately capturing elemental hydrogen and carbon. The hydrogen will be used in onsite fuel cells to produce electricity far more efficiently (42%) without greenhouse gas emissions compared to an efficiency of just 23% when landfill gas is burned directly. The carbon can be sold as a valuable, high-grade graphite suitable for nanomaterials applications. CatalyxNano has teamed with infrastructure developer Dudek to commercialize the biohydrogen process...Read More »



Coca-Cola Expands Partnership with RecycleBank

Coca-Cola Co. is expanding its relationship with RecycleBank LLC, with whom it has invested, by offering consumers who recycle a wider variety of rewards. Those who participate in the RecycleBank curbside recycling program, which rewards participants based on the amount they recycle, will be able to redeem their RecycleBank points for a variety of products from Coca-Cola and its family of brands. Coca-Cola will also allow participants to redeem RecycleBank points for My Coke Rewards points, an online loyalty program for Coca-Cola consumers that allows them to exchange points for magazine subscriptions, clothing and other goods. So far, RecycleBank has partnerships with more than 900 local and national businesses to encourage recycling...Read More »



Waste Connections to Report Fourth Quarter Earnings on February 17

Waste Connections, Inc. said it will announce fourth quarter and year-end financial results as well as its outlook for 2009 after the close of the market on February 17. The company will host a conference call that day at 5 pm (Eastern)...Read More »



BFI Canada to Report Fourth Quarter Earnings on February 26

BFI Canada Ltd. said it will issue financial results for the fourth quarter and full year after the close of the market on Thursday, February 26. The company will host a conference call the following day at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss those results...Read More »



American Ecology to Report Fourth Quarter Earnings on February 11

American Ecology Corp. plans to announce fourth quarter and year-end financial results on Wednesday, February 11 prior to the market open. Management will host an investor conference call the same day at 11 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss these results and its business outlook for 2009...Read More »


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