Weekly News Bulletin: Feb. 17-23, 2009


Waste Management's Profits Decline, will reorganize to save $100 Mil. Annually

Waste Management blamed the current economic environment and the resulting decline in waste volume for posting a 29 percent drop in fourth quarter profits. Volumes fell in its industrial collection, transfer and recycling businesses and forecast a weaker 2009 for those operations. Slumping commodities prices are also hurting the company's recycling business. In response, the company announced a major reorganization that will reduce market areas to 25 from 45 to eliminate "duplicative functions" and resulting in a "fewer than 1,000" workforce reduction, announced last week. During a call with analysts, CEO David Steiner said that the cuts would cost the company $50 million in the first quarter of 2009 but save $100 million in payroll over the year.

The company earned $218 million, or $0.44 per share, during the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to earning $309 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, on revenue of $3.36 billion during the fourth quarter of 2007. For the full year, the company earned $1.09 billion, or $2.19 per share, on revenue of $13.39 billion compared to earning $1.16 billion, or $2.23 per share, on revenue of $13.3 billion in 2007. The company said it expects 2009 free cash flow of $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion through pricing, expense control and capital discipline...Read More »



TVA Estimates it Could Spend $825 Mil. to Clean up Ash Spills

The Tennessee Valley Authority said that cleaning up the Kingston Fossil Plant fly ash spill will cost at least $525 million and could cost as much as $825 million, and the price could rise because of litigation expenses, fines and regulations. The cost will depend on the disposal method of the 5.4 million cubic yards of ash that spilled across 275 acres in Roane County, Tenn., on Dec. 22. Already, four lawsuits have been filed in connection with the spill, and notices of intent to file three others have been recorded. According to an SEC filing, final options for storing the spilled ash include keeping it on site and moving it by barge or truck to a developed landfill, but cleanup costs "could change significantly if TVA is required to use a method of disposal other than what has been considered, or the amount of ash to be disposed of changes."...Read More »



Sen. Boxer Shuffles Environment Committee; Ambitious New Agenda

Senate environment committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is reorganizing the committee to create a host of new subcommittees that provide chairmanships to each of the Democratic senators whom served on the panel in the last Congress. As part of the reorganization, Boxer has elevated climate change and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review requirements to the full Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW), suggesting she will take the lead on those issues. At the same time, the chairmen and ranking members of the new subcommittees are already laying out aggressive agendas ranging from oversight of the Bush administration's environmental policies to finding ways to boost infrastructure funding and from addressing a backlog of Superfund sites and other waste issues to tackling legislation to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. The reorganization which was approved on Feb. 12, establishes seven subcommittees: Transportation & Infrastructure; Clean Air & Nuclear Safety; Superfund, Toxics & Environmental Health; Water & Wildlife; Green Jobs & the New Economy; Children's Health; and Oversight. Many of the committee's agenda items will likely be contentious, especially climate change. But the panel also faces heightened pressure to authorize major funding programs for water, highway and other infrastructure projects that enjoy broad bipartisan support.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the new chair of the waste and toxics subcommittee, is planning an ambitious agenda, including addressing Superfund cleanups, waste management, and coal combustion waste disposal and reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), an effort that seeks to impose new burdens on industry to show its chemicals are safe...Read More »



Obama Signs US Stimulus Bill Including $45 Bil. in Energy Spending

The new stimulus bill signed into law this week by President Obama includes about $50 billion for energy programs, focused chiefly on efficiency and renewable energy, including $5 billion to weatherize modest-income homes. The new law called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, authorizes spending $45.2 billion on energy-related programs and nearly $20 billion in tax credits for renewable energy, efficiency and electrical transmission projects. The president said the bill would double renewable energy use in three years. In a statement prior to the signing, the White House said this would be done by spurring $100 billion in new "clean energy" projects. The law extends production tax credits for wind, biomass and other renewable energy industries, and allows investors to instead opt for investment tax credits like those afforded to solar developers. Congressional committees have also begun work on a new energy bill, which could expand federal control over electrical transmission siting and may or may not introduce a new renewable energy standard for utilities...Read More »



Federal E-Waste Proposals Differ over Legislative Scope

Various democratic lawmakers are drafting three separate bills to address the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste), that could lead to conflicts of approach to the problem. The House Science & Technology Committee has a draft bill that calls for EPA to commission multi-year studies by various research institutions and a one-year study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to examine ways to improve the efficiency of e-waste recycling, but not mandate any regulatory requirements on handling e-waste. But Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressional E-Waste Working Group co-founder Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) are drafting separate legislation which could impose bans on e-waste exports, set handling and disposal requirements, or other measures. And Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) has previously expressed a desire to pursue legislation that would impose an export ban on e-waste. There are currently no federal laws regulating the disposal of consumer electronics, though eighteen states and New York City have passed laws regulating its disposal. The EPA estimates that less than a fifth of electronics are disposed of or reused responsibly, and often the e-waste is sent to developing countries, where it is mined for the valuable metals inside, often using methods that are extremely unsafe for the workers and the environment...Read More »



BFI Canada Ltd. Announces $65 Mil. Bought Deal Financing

BFI Canada Ltd said it will sell about $65.22 million in stock by way of a bought-deal financing, with proceeds to be used to pay down debt, and forecast revenue growth in excess of 21 percent for fiscal 2008. The company, formerly BFI Canada Income Fund, will sell 8.5 million common shares at a price of C$9.50 per share. "The net proceeds will be fully applied to the U.S. credit facility, removing the risk associated with the U.S. covenant adjustment which goes into effect on March 31, 2009," CEO Keith Carrigan said in a statement. The underwriters, co-led by TD Securities, RBC Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets, have an option to buy up to an additional C$12 million in stock. The company forecast revenue for the year ending Dec 31, 2008 of between C$1.11 billion and C$1.12 billion, an increase in excess of 21 percent over last year...Read More »



EnergySolutions Offers to Split Revenues with Utah to Allow Foreign Nuclear Waste Disposal

EnergySolutions, based in Salt Lake City, is offering the state of Utah half of its revenues from the proposed disposal of foreign nuclear waste at its Clive facility west of the city. Of course, according to company spokesperson Jill Sigal, the state must first drop its objections to allowing the company to import low-level radioactive waste from Italy as originally proposed. Recent revenue estimates released last week estimate that Utah faces a $320-million budget shortfall in its next fiscal year beginning July 1...Read More »



GreenHunter Sells Florida Biomass Plant for $5.7 Mil.

GreenHunter Renewable Power said it closed on the sale of its 14 MW wood waste-fired biomass power plant in Telogia, FL for $5.7 million, including the assumption of around $1.7 million in debt, to Multitrade Telogia, LLC. GreenHunter, which is a subsidiary of GreenHunter Energy, Inc., had only recently acquired the plant in September 2008 for around US$2.5 million. GreenHunter Energy Chairman, President and CEO Gary C. Evans said, "The sale of this non cash flow-producing asset will allow our company to improve our liquidity position as well as redeploy our capital in a more efficient manner."...Read More »



American Ecology Posts 8% Profit Increase for Fourth Quarter

American Ecology Corp. reported an 8 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income to $5.2 million, or $0.29 per share, from $4.9 million or $0.27 per share in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter decreased 4 percent to $44.0 million from $45.9 million in the comparable quarter last year. Looking ahead to the full year 2009, the company expects to report earnings in the range of $1.14-$1.22 per share. The company attributed the increasing diversity to its mix of hazardous and radioactive waste disposal services for stabilizing revenues in the wake of some expiring contracts...Read More »



Dell Expands its Free Computer Recycling Program to More States

Dell Computer said it expanded its US electronics recycling network to more states and began an online trade-in program. People can bring used computers and other electronics to Goodwill stores in 18 states, where items are resold, refurbished or broken down to salvage as scrap. Goodwill trains people with disabilities or other disadvantages to test refurbish or strip down devices. More than 50 million pounds of electronic equipment have been recycled through Goodwill since the partnership with Dell started in Texas...Read More »


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