Weekly News Bulletin: Sep. 15-21, 2009


EPA May Allow Industry to Estimate Rather than Monitor Greenhouse Gases

The U.S. EPA appears likely to grant an industry request to allow facilities to estimate, rather than monitor, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the early years of the federal agency's GHG-reporting program. However, activists worry about the effectiveness of such a measure and point to a new study suggesting that estimation methods can result in under-reporting of emissions by as much as 70%. Although the reporting data is intended to inform development of any GHG regulations, agency officials appear to agree with an industry request not to require facilities to monitor their emissions until EPA has a clearer idea on the design of its regulatory program. However, inaccuracies in projections could be costly for regulated facilities since each ton of emissions from a baseline quantify how many allowances a polluter needs to purchase or to get credit for reductions...Read More »



Schwarzenegger Orders a Third of Power from Renewables

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order requiring California utilities to draw a third of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The requirement is stricter than in any other state about half of which have similar such renewable portfolio standards. However, the Governor is at odds with democrats in Sacramento who three days earlier passed a pair of similar bills which he has vowed to veto because they would limit the amount of renewable electricity that could be purchased from outside the state. The executive order explicitly states that renewable energy from "resources and facilities located throughout the Western Interconnection" is welcome.

This latest order authorizes the state's pollution regulators to begin the complex process of drafting rules to more than triple the state's reliance on alternative power over the next decade and is legally authorized under AB 32, California's landmark 2006 global warming law.

Whether the state will actually meet the new requirements is another matter. It already appears that the state will not meet its interim mandate of 20 percent by 2010. San Diego Gas and Electric, a division of Sempra Energy, reports that at present it is only getting 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources...Read More »



SPSA Votes to Sell Portsmouth Energy Plant

The Southeastern Public Service Authority's (SPSA) board of directors voted unanimously last week to sell its waste-to-energy plant in Portsmouth to Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. for $150 million. Wheelabrator, which is a division of Waste Management, beat a competing offer by Covanta Energy. The sale would go a long way to paying down SPSA's $240 million in debt, of which it owes $129 million to the state of Virginia alone. Last month the authority rejected an offer by New York based ReEnergy Holdings to buy SPSA for $205 million. In the meantime, the authority has been forced to raise disposal fees charged to its eight member municipalities to $170 per ton; it is the highest rate in the country. Last week, member community Isle of Wight County voted to seek to remove itself from the organization. They will likely have to buy out of their contract, which like the other member municipalities, expires in 2018...Read More »



MIT Researchers to Track Waste in Seattle Social Experiment

MIT researchers hope that a plan to track household waste in Seattle will encourage people to be more conscious of what they are throwing away. "Seeing where your trash goes allows you to change your behavior," said Assaf Biderman, associate director of MIT's SENSEable City lab and a project leader. "Will you refill a cup instead of throwing away a disposable one?" Hundreds of Seattle residents have volunteered to allow researchers to attach electronic tags to about a dozen pieces of their household trash, for a total of about 3,000 tags. These volunteers will dispose of the items as normal, and the battery-operated smart tags using cell phone technology will allow researchers, and the public, to monitor the trash in real time while it travels through the waste stream to its final destination. Biderman explained that the experiment should allow researchers to discover how efficiently, or inefficiently, a waste removal system performs...Read More »



TVA to Provide $40 Million to Help Tennessee Community after Ash Spill

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it will spend $40 million on economic development projects in Roane County, TN, the site of a huge coal ash spill at one of its power plants last December. The TVA payment to the community is in addition to cleanup costs estimated to total $1.1 billion. An eight-member foundation board of county officials and TVA representatives will decide how the money is to be spent. The announcement came after months of negotiations between the authority and local officials. The TVA has allotted $10 million per year for the four years it will take to clean up the spill. That brings the total cost of the cleanup to $1.2 billion which includes the $40 million paid to the county as well as $40.2 million to buy out 142 property owners in the spill affected area...Read More »



New Landfill Gas to Energy Project to be Largest in Missouri

AmerenUE and Fred Weber Inc. announced a partnership to install a multi-million-dollar landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) project at Weber's landfill near St. Louis, Missouri. Once it is operational in 2011, it is expected to be the largest such facility in Missouri and one of the largest in the nation. The plan calls for installing combustion turbines at Fred Weber Inc.'s landfill in Maryland Heights that will be capable of generating about 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the demands of about 10,000 homes. AmerenUE is a Missouri utility owned by St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. Fred Weber is one of the largest privately held companies in St. Louis with $353.3 million in revenue in 2008...Read More »



Cotton Creek Capital Buys Waste Partners of Texas

Cotton Creek Capital has acquired Waste Partners of Texas, a Dallas-based provider of solid waste collection, sweeping, portable sanitation and related services in the Southwestern U.S. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which was followed by a bolt-on acquisition of Texas Toilets of Texas LP. Cotton Creek is a Dallas private equity firm with an $80 million fund of committed capital. Waste Partners has around 150 employees and operations in the Metroplex, Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix, AZ, markets. Debt financing for both the Waste Partners acquisition and the Texas Toilets of Texas deal was provided by BBVA Compass Bank...Read More »



Andrews TX Landfill Wins Permit to Dispose of Low Level Radioactive Wastes

Valhi, Inc. announced that its subsidiary Waste Control Specialists LLC won final approval to accept low-level radioactive waste at their facility near Andrews, TX. That facility is already licensed to accept a broad range of hazardous and toxic waste, byproduct material. The new license authorizes the near-surface disposal of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste. WCS President Rodney Baltzer called the signing of the license "historic." "Our Andrews County facility is the first facility licensed for the disposal of this material since Congress adopted The Low-Level Waste Policy Act in 1980 which authorized states to form compacts for the safe, secure disposal of LLRW. Texas and Vermont comprise the Texas Compact," he said. Construction of the new disposal facility is expected to take about a year with disposal operations scheduled to begin in late 2010...Read More »



EPA Considers Enforcement of Impoundments; Coal Ash Sites May be Difficult

The EPA Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) is said to be considering a new national enforcement priority against surface impoundments, including coal ash disposal sites for fiscal years 2011-13. Through its web site, EPA's enforcement office is seeking public comment on its enforcement priorities. And, many activists would like the agency to pursue enforcement against coal ash impoundments, in light of the December spill in Tennessee. That will likely take effect only after EPA issues its pending first-time Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) rules for coal waste disposal. Adding an issue to OECA's list of priorities requires three factors: that there is widespread non-compliance, that the issue is national in scope, and that it has a large environmental impact. However, since there are at present no coal waste rules in place, there can be no widespread non-compliance, making it difficult to list them as a priority...Read More »



Republic Services Gives Early Results and Amends Tender Offer

Republic Services announced initial results of its tender offer of Aug. 31 for various notes coming due over the next two years. The company has amended the offer to purchase the maximum aggregate principal amount of outstanding notes that they can purchase for a total of $340 million (excluding accrued interest); the original offer contemplated a purchase of up to $250 million. Last month, the company announced its plan to sell $650 million in notes to pay off other notes maturing in 2010 and 2011, reduce debt and pay taxes related to the recent divestiture of assets...Read More »


Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin