Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 16-22, 2009


Battle Brewing Over Landfill Methane Under Climate Bill

The exclusion of landfill methane projects from qualifying for offset credits under the Waxman-Markey Climate bill perplexes many in the industry and is shaping up to be a major battleground. At issue is a section in H.R. 2454, "the American Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009" that lays out qualifications for GHG-offset projects. Within this section, the bill allows offset credits only for agriculture-related and "enteric fermentation" projects, and coal mine methane reduction projects under cap-and-trade program requirements. Projects that reduce other sources of methane, such as from landfills and natural gas operations, which contribute more than 10 percent of the nation's total methane emissions annually, would not qualify for offset credits. And, the bill directs EPA to promulgate new performance-based standards to limit emissions from these facilities...Read More »



Casella Waste Sees Fourth Quarter Loss on Charges amid Less Revenue

Casella Waste Systems said that fourth quarter revenue dropped by 16% on "significant declines in commodity pricing and lower solid waste volumes in more economically sensitive markets," according to Chief Executive John W. Casella. Revenue for the quarter that ended April 30, fell to $117.6 million from $139.6 million in the prior year quarter. About 53% of the decline was due to a decline in recycling revenues which fell by $11.6 million since last year largely as a result of lower commodity prices. Consequently, the company reported a loss of $68.5 million, or $2.67 per share, compared with a loss of $7.8 million, or $0.31 per share, a year earlier. Much of the loss was due to a $55.3 million impairment charge and a $24.1 million charge for the increase of the noncash deferred tax valuation allowance, without which, the company would have reported a loss of $0.03 per share. Looking forward though, the company remains upbeat pointing to recently signed recycling agreements in several major markets, especially as municipalities remain firmly committed to recycling as an integral component of waste management services...Read More »



California "Governator" Takes Aim at Waste Board

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger again wants to eliminate the state's Integrated Waste management Board (CIWMB) as part of his campaign to address the state's $24.3 billion deficit. Proponents of the agency say that it has helped California cut its waste by 50 percent between 1989, when the agency was created, and 2005 and that much of its $235 million budget is funded by landfill taxes and fees on the sale of tires, televisions and other goods. Critics of CIWMB, which has six board members and a staff of about 450 employees, charge that the board positions are essentially parking spots for political cronies. The Governor argues that the money it receives and which is guided by state law to be allocated to waste and recycling related programs would be better spent elsewhere. He would like to eliminate the board and split its responsibilities between the Department of Conservation and Department of Toxic Substances Control...Read More »



EPA Seeks 30% 'Disinvestments' to Fund Jackson's Priorities

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has ordered program offices to draft options for "disinvesting" between 10 and 30 percent of their current budgets in fiscal year 2011, for redeploying those savings in a "bold new direction" that focus on her priorities. They include greenhouse gas reduction, air quality improvement, managing chemical risks, hazardous waste site cleanup, protecting America's waters, and information systems. The national program managers of the agency's five major program offices are required to look at "different ways of doing business" and must submit disinvestment and reinvestment proposals to the agency's Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) by June 18. The agency then plans to submit Sept. 14 its proposed FY11 budget to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB)...Read More »



San Francisco Passes Draconian Recycling Bill

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a mandatory composting law that is believed to be the strictest such ordinance in the nation. Residents will be required to have three color-coded trash bins, for trash, recycling, and compost. Residents and businesses that fail to recycle or compost the appropriate waste could be fined. San Francisco, which boasts a recycling rate of 72%, has aggressively pursued green initiatives such as banning plastic bags at supermarkets. The city eventually wants to eliminate all waste going to landfills by 2020...Read More »



Boxer Complains EPA Will Not Reveal Most Hazardous Coal Ash Sites

Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman US Sen. Barbara Boxer complained at a recent press conference that the Department of Homeland Security will not allow her to discuss the location of 44 coal ash waste impoundments across the country deemed by the EPA be highly hazardous. DHS says that revealing their locations could be a security hazard, although the agency would not detail their security concerns with the Senator. Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal and often contains toxic chemicals that can cause birth defects, cancer and other health problems. Boxer said "We are losing what we cherish in America, the public's right to know," and that residents of the communities involved have a right to know if a threat exists in their neighborhood. Her committee began investigating coal ash impoundments after more than 1 billion gallons of coal combustion waste covered more than 300 acres near the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston power plant in December last year...Read More »



Activists' Report Criticizes Waste Incineration as 'Just Blowing Smoke'

The latest salvo in the highly charged debate over whether waste-to-energy qualify as a renewable energy source under the pending Climate Change bill is a report by a group of environmental activists that disparages all waste incineration technologies. Their report "An Industry Blowing Smoke," concludes that new incineration technologies, like older-style burners, are expensive, inefficient and contribute to both climate change and serious public health impacts. "Trash incineration is more carbon-intensive than coal power and a leading source of dioxins in the United States," according to the report. However, there may be more to the debate than meets the eye. The activists including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, California Communities Against Toxics, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and International Rivers are apparently coordinating their efforts with major labor unions under the umbrella of the Change to Win coalition, a group of unions formedin 2005 as an alternative to the AFL-CIO, in an effort to collaborate on the waste-to-energy issue. Behind the effort is the theory that recycling plants employ far more workers than do waste-to-energy plants and that raising costs to landfill will encourage more labor-intensive (job creating) recycling with less impact to the environment...Read More »



California AG Sues Target Corp. Over Illegal Disposal of Hazardous Waste

California Attorney General Jerry Brown and local officials are suing Target Corp., accusing the large retailer of dumping hazardous waste in landfills around the state. Brown along with 20 district attorneys and the Los Angeles city attorney have jointly filed a complaint in Alameda County Superior Court. They claim more than 200 Target stores have been dumping waste such as flammable aerosol canisters, propane canisters and corrosive spray cleaners into landfills for the past eight years. In May, the state reached an $8.65 million settlement with rival retailer Kmart Corp. over similar allegations. The deal requires Kmart to properly store its waste and retrain its workers...Read More »



Waste Management to Deploy Solar-Powered Trash Compactors

Waste Management Inc. plans to deploy solar-powered trash compactors, under an exclusive agreement with BigBelly Solar, which produces them. The compactors enable collection of about five times as much waste as a traditional container and reduce the need for frequent collection. Waste Management said the compacting unit is about the same size as a 35-gallon container, but will hold about 180 gallons of waste. The units are completely self-powered, using built-in solar panels to compact trash. Once full, a wireless system then signals that the unit is ready to be picked up...Read More »


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