Weekly News Bulletin: Apr. 21-27, 2009


Draft House Climate Bill Draws Fire, Will Offer GHG Allowances

A draft climate change-energy bill authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, is set to be debated and voted upon and is already sparking some vitriol from southern and Midwestern states that are more dependent on energy from coal. The provision which mandates that electric utilities obtain 25% of their power from renewable resources by 2025 is a key issue of contention. "We cannot achieve a 25% mandate by 2020," said North Carolina Democrat G.K. Butterfield. "Not only is it impracticable; it is impossible." Even Tennessee Democrat Bart Gordon, who chairs the House Science and Technology Committee and who believes climate change is real, concedes that "It is important for us to have more energy independence, but [the RES] should not be punitive to different parts of the country." The draft RES recognizes wind, solar and geothermal but members from the southeastern US suggested the committee broaden the sources to include nuclear and broader uses of biomass. There is also concern that the GHG reduction targets will put domestic companies at a disadvantage to foreign competitors and pressure is mounting to remedy the situation. In response, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) have created a so-called Inslee-Doyle provision that exempts some industries deemed to be more exposed to international competition such as oil refineries and the steel and aluminum industries...Read More »



Waste Connections Posts Modest Decline in First Quarter Earnings despite Increase in Sales

Waste Connections announced a modest decline in first quarter earnings despite a 5% increase in quarterly revenues. Some unusual costs contributed to an earnings decline to $22 million, or $0.27 per share, compared to $22.5 million, or $0.33 a share in last year's first quarter. The expenses included $3.8 million in acquisition-related costs and the relocation of corporate headquarters in Folsom, CA. First-quarter revenue reached $262.7 million, a 4.9 percent increase from $250.3 million a year ago. "We are extremely pleased with our results ... and are off to a good start for the year," Waste Connections chairman and CEO Ron Mittelstaedt said in a news release. "A weakened economy has impacted revenue, but operational improvements and cost controls have enabled us to exceed our outlook for operating income before depreciation and amortization."...Read More »



Waste Services Said First Quarter Profits Hurt by Lower Volume and Unusual Items

Waste Services, Inc. announced that first quarter profit had been hurt by reduced special waste volumes into its landfills but that full-year earnings will be higher than previously expected. Net income declined to $4 million, or $0.09 per share, from $12.7 million, or $0.28 per share in last year's first quarter. Despite 3.8% core pricing growth, revenue decreased to $95.8 million from $116.6 million last year hurt by the decline in volume of waste collected, foreign currency translation impacts, a decline in fuel surcharges, and lower commodity prices for recovered materials. Excluding last year's tax benefit and a benefit from sales of discontinued operations, adjusted income from continuing operations actually increased to $1.4 million from $1.2 million last year. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.031 compared to $0.027 last year...Read More »



EPA Proposing to Slash Mercury Emissions from Cement Plants

The US EPA is proposing dramatic reductions of mercury emissions from cement plants. The proposal comes in response to a lawsuit it settled with environmentalists, including activists and nine states. They had sued the agency in 2007 over existing regulations that exempted older cement kilns, those built before Dec. 2, 2005, which includes most operating kilns. According to environmental law firm, Earthjustice, about 150 kilns around the nation generate nearly 23,000 pounds of airborne mercury per year making them the fourth largest contributor of mercury air emissions in the U.S. The proposed standards also would set emission limits for total hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide from cement kilns of all sizes, and would reduce hydrochloric acid emissions from kilns that are large emitters. The majority of the toxic emissions at cement kilns come from the burning of fuels and heating of raw materials. When fully implemented in 2013, the agency hopes to reduce annual emissions of mercury by 11,600 lbs., an 81% reduction, hydrocarbons by 11,700 tons, an 75% reduction, and particulate matter, hydrochloric acid and sulfur dioxide all by 90% or more...Read More »



House is to Vote on E-waste Recycling Research Bill

The House is expected to vote this week on a bill to help improve recycling technologies and encourage the use of more environmentally sensitive materials to address the growing amount of electronic waste. H.R. 1580, introduced by Science Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), would authorize the US EPA to give grants for e-waste reduction research and development. The grants would focus on research to improve the efficiency of recycling and collection programs, develop less hazardous materials for manufacturing and promote lifecycle analyses of electronic devices. They would also target boosting public awareness of electronic waste and how to deal with it. Despite representing only a few percentages of the overall waste stream, the proliferation of new gadgets and consequent reduced lifecycle of existing ones, and the fact that they often contain mercury, lead and other chemicals, is cause for concern as they accumulate in the waste stream...Read More »



WM Healthcare Buys PharmEcology Another Medical Waste Company

WM Healthcare Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc. said it bought substantially all the assets of PharmEcology Associates, a Milwaukee, WI company that provides pharmaceutical waste management consulting services. Waste Management said the acquisition fits into its strategy to expand its waste disposal services for hospitals and other health care facilities. Last month the company acquired a processing facility in Woodstock, GA and in November last year it acquired certain assets of Escondido, CA-based medical waste company Spectrum Environmental Solutions. Charlotte Smith, founder of PharmEcology, will join WM Healthcare Solutions and remain with the business. According to Smith, "WM Healthcare Solutions has the resources to allow us to expand our reach to greater numbers of hospitals who can benefit from our pharmaceutical waste consulting."...Read More »



Richard Burke to Assume Reins as CEO of Veolia's North American Operations

Richard Burke, who is currently president of Veolia ES Solid Waste, will assume the mantle of CEO for all of Veolia Environmental Services North America. He succeeds former CEO Michel Gourvennec, who recently announced his retirement. Burke joined Veolia Environmental Services in 1999 as Area Manager for Southeast Wisconsin and was soon promoted to Regional Vice President for the Eastern and Southern markets. He was promoted to the president and CEO position in 2007. Prior to joining Veolia, he spent 12 years working for Waste Management. Burke will also continue to manage Veolia ES Solid Waste, Inc. until a new President and CEO is appointed...Read More »



EPA Publishes Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions grew 1.4 percent in 2007, according to a new report from the US EPA entitled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007." The agency released a draft of the report in early March, and had been taking public comments until recently. From 1990 to 2007, overall U.S. emissions grew by 17.1%, according to the report. Because of high prices at the pump, and warmer winters, emissions from fuel combustion decreased slightly from 2005 to 2006, but emissions from 2006 to 2007 increased at a rate slightly higher than the average growth rate since 1990. The boost from 2006 to 2007 can be attributed to a colder winter and warmer summer, meaning a jump in consumption of heating fuels, as well as an increase in electricity demand...Read More »



Casella Intends to Sell Maine Energy Recovery (MERC) Plant despite Local Opposition

Since August of last year, Casella Waste Systems has been considering selling its only waste-to-energy facility, the Maine Energy Recovery Co. (MERC) plant in Biddeford, Maine. Recently, company senior vice president James W. Bohlig told the Portland Press Herald that the company would like to deploy its capital on other waste management opportunities, such as recycling, landfill gas-to-energy and developing waste-to-liquid fuel plants. He indicated that other companies are interested in buying the plant despite the tight credit market and efforts by some state and local officials and residents to close it. The plant processes 280,000 tons of waste per year serving more than three dozen communities and generates electricity and employs about 80 people. The plant which opened in 1987 is said to have at least another 20 years of useful life which, according to Bohlig, that makes it worth $50 million or more. Local residents and officials are raising their rhetoric but few cost-effective alternatives exist for what to do with the waste...Read More »



Landfill Gas from Republic Landfill in Missouri to Power Lafarge Cement Plant

Gas from Republic Services' Courtney Ridge Landfill in Missouri will soon power the nearby Lafarge cement plant in Sugar Creek allowing them to reduce their use of coal by 20%. The project will use 2,400 cubic feet per minute of landfill gas as a direct fuel to assist in firing the kiln during Portland cement production. Republic supported Lafarge's efforts to build the nearly $2 million project that consists primarily of a pipeline and gas processing unit. The Courtney Ridge Landfill's recently expanded gas recovery system consists of 32 wells, averaging 100 feet deep, over a 64 acre area. There are now 70 landfill gas projects located on landfills owned by Republic...Read More »



WCA Waste Corp. to Announce First Quarter Earnings on April 29

WCA Waste Corporation said it will release first quarter financial results at the close of the market on April 29 and host a conference call the next day at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss them...Read More »


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