Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 30-Jul. 6, 2009


EPA Gives California Power to Set its Own Emissions Standards

The US EPA said it has granted California the right to enforce its own emissions standards from cars and light trucks; it is the first state allowed to do so. The move reverses a 2008 ruling by the Bush administration and effectively ends a seesaw political battle between automakers and environmental regulators that began eight years ago when the California Legislature first took up the issue.

The immediate impact of the decision, which had been widely anticipated, is more symbolic than practical. The 2009 fleet of new vehicles is already in compliance with the California rules and the 2010 fleet is also expected to meet the requirements.

Nationally, about one-third of the greenhouse-gas emissions contributing to climate change come from the transportation sector, most of it from cars and light trucks.

The rules in California will cut emissions from new vehicles by 14 percent from 2008 levels in 2011. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have also adopted the California rules in an effort to combat climate change.

California's emissions rules are also expected to be congruent with new federal fuel economy standards announced in May by the Obama administration. Both standards envision that emissions will be cut by 30 percent in 2016.

The aligning of California's rules and the federal mileage standards is intended to ensure that automakers comply with a single standard.

Car makers may have been vulnerable to accepting the fuel economy and emission standards that they long opposed, at a time when their industry is in crisis and are accepting billions of dollars in federal money...Read More »



Intense Lobbying Behind Passage of Climate Change Bill in House

For many industries, particularly the energy sector, the stakes are huge in the landmark climate and energy bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives this week. Consequently, efforts to lobby Congress have been intense with many groups spending more this year than ever despite the recession.

A recent report by the Center for Responsive Politics indicates that Oil and gas companies, agricultural services and product makers, alternative energy producers, environmental groups, and those in the natural gas businesses spent more than they did last year. For the 10 energy interests analyzed, the oil and gas industry led the pack on spending. It shelled out $44.5 million in the first three months of this year, compared with $30.1 million spent in the same quarter in 2008. For all of last year, oil and gas spent $130 million, at the time a record for the industry. If the pace set by this year's first quarter continues, it would result in a $178 million lobbying total for the year.

Many in that industry criticize what they see as an inequity in how lawmakers distributed "free allowances," permits that will let utilities and other sectors emit some carbon without being charged in the early years of the cap-and-trade program...Read More »



EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Definition of Solid Waste

The US EPA will hold a public meeting on possible revisions to the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) rule on June 30 in order for stakeholders and members of the public to voice their opinions on the rule. The agency is considering measures that would make its controversial rule amending the definition of solid waste (DSW) under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) more stringent. In answer to critics, the agency, which finalized the rule late last year in an effort to promote recycling, is considering a more precise definition of how industry must "contain" recyclable materials in order to qualify for an exemption from strict hazardous waste requirements. Moreover, companies seeking to take advantage of the exemptions will likely need to notify the agency earlier and meet the definition of "legitimate" recycling...Read More »



Casella Waste Secures New Debt

Casella Waste Systems said it secured a $100 million term loan and $205 million in senior secured second lien notes due 2014. Casella plans to use the proceeds from the notes and the term loan to repay some of its existing debt. Moody's Investors Service assigned a Ba2 rating to the term loan and a B2 rating to the new notes. According to Moody's analyst, Jonathan Root, completion of the refinancing helps the company's liquidity but "does not address the potential pressure on earnings and operating cash flow of the continuing weak demand environment, which Moody's expects could linger well into 2010."...Read More »



Waste Management Discusses World's Largest Landfill Gas to Fuel Plant

As start-up on the world's largest plant to convert landfill gas into clean vehicle fuel nears completion, joint venture partners Linde North America and Waste Management have begun to share details of the project. The companies are installing systems at WM's Altamont Landfill near Livermore, CA that will purify and liquefy landfill gas, a renewable source of biomethane fuel. When the $15.5 million plant begins operating later this year, it is designed to produce up to 13,000 gallons a day of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that could fuel hundreds of waste collection vehicles...Read More »



Interstate Waste and PPL Open Large Landfill Gas Project in Pennsylvania

Interstate Waste Services announced that it has begun operating a new landfill gas-to-energy project located at its 684 acre Cumberland County Landfill in Shippensburg, PA. It is estimated that the 6.4 megawatt project will provide enough methane to generate enough electricity to power 4,800 homes and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by an equivalent 79 million pounds of carbon dioxide by avoiding the use of fossil fuels. PPL Renewable Energy developed the project which it will own and operate adding to its more than 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the US. Interstate Waste Services is a division of Highstar Waste Holding Corp. also has a 3.2-megawatt gas-to-energy plant, owned and operated by PPL, at its Moretown Landfill in Moretown, VT...Read More »



EPA Makes Public the Location of 44 Most Hazardous Coal Ash Sites

The US EPA made public a list of the 44 potentially most hazardous coal ash sites located in 26 communities in 10 states where storage ponds pose a similar threat to the environment as one that spilled near Kingston, TN in December last year. North Carolina hosts a dozen of those on the list while the largest concentration is on a site near Cochise, AZ where there are seven storage ponds. The sites were ranked not in accordance with any known defects but rather for their proximity to populations. EPA intends to make it a priority to inspect those sites before the end of the year. The list had been concealed pending further investigation until Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, whose Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on the coal ash risks, assailed the EPA for not allowing her to discuss the sites publicly...Read More »



Waste Management Opens Ultra-Green Recycling Facility

Waste Management of Oregon has just opened a $10 million expansive new ultra-green recycling facility near Hillsboro, OR. The 65,000-square-foot facility will accept construction and demolition castoffs that, in the past, have ended up in landfills. It will collect, sort and reclaim these materials - concrete, asphalt, wood, and metals - for use in new ways. The facility itself is designed to meet rigorous sustainability standards known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and will operate differently than traditional facilities. In particular, a translucent roof will utilize natural lighting and include a system to harvest rainwater and provide more powerful ventilation...Read More »



Tetra Tech buys Bryan A. Stirrat & Associates

Engineering firm Tetra Tech Inc. said it has acquired Bryan A. Stirrat & Associates, a Southern California-based consulting and engineering firm. Terms were not disclosed. BAS, with annual revenue of $40 million and 150 employees in California and Arizona, provides landfill design, hazardous waste management, groundwater protection and other services for municipal and commercial customers. Tetra Tech has worked with BAS on landfill remediation programs, including a brownfield redevelopment near Los Angeles...Read More »



Waste Management to Announce Second Quarter Earnings on July 30

Waste Management said it will release second quarter financial results before the market opens on Thursday, July 30 and will host an investor conference call later that morning at 10 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss them...Read More »


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