Waste Industry Fighting to Retain Offsets, Credits in Senate Climate Bill

Date: July 15, 2009

Source: News Room

The waste management industry is working to ensure that the upcoming Senate version of greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade legislation includes favorable provisions that allow landfills capturing GHGs to receive carbon offsets and allow waste incinerators and biogas plants to receive renewable fuel credits. They hope that these provisions which are included in the House-passed climate bill will remain intact within the Senate version to be floated later this month. Some states however are worried that the offset and renewable fuel provisions could discourage recycling, which they view as one of the most efficient means of reducing GHGs.

Smaller landfills, such as those operated by municipalities, have the most to gain from the offsets because they would not be subject, under the bill, to mandatory GHG reduction measures such as those implemented under the Clean Air Act's new source performance standards (NSPS). Therefore, anything they do such as flaring methane or converting it to energy would likely qualify for carbon offsets.

The House bill requires EPA to develop rules to define which projects may be eligible for carbon offsets, including stipulating that the activities must reduce GHG emissions below yet-to-be-determined baseline levels.

The bill also includes provisions to allow renewable energy credits to be awarded to landfills with waste-to-energy or gas-to-energy plants. As utilities will be required to generate an increasing share of their power from renewable sources, the price for renewable energy will likely increase thus providing more incentive to develop such projects. However, a provision of the bill stipulates that "the local government from which the waste originates" would have to provide a recycling program.

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