Weekly News Bulletin: Jan. 5-11, 2010


Showdown in Court over New York City's E-Waste Law

The battle in New York City over the constitutionality of its sweeping electronics recycling (e-waste) law is heating up; the outcome is likely to affect many states with similar so-called "take-back" laws. Later this month, a federal judge in a Lower Manhattan will hear arguments about whether the City's law requiring manufacturers to collect and recycle electronic goods sold within the city limits is valid. It had been slated to begin last June, but was challenged by two industry groups, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), who have argued the law is an attempt to regulate commerce beyond the City's borders. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which helped draft the law, and the Electronics Takeback Coalition disagree by saying that the law is essentially no different than those of 19 other states with similar "producer responsibility laws."

The CEA and ITIC say the City's law differs by putting the entire burden of collecting and processing electronic waste on manufacturers without any help from consumers, retailers or government agencies. And, even though the law in principal allows manufacturers to deploy their own plans, as written they leave few options. Curbside collection is banned and mail-in programs are restricted to items less than 15 pounds. That leaves door-to-door collection which CEA estimates would cost the industry $200 million a year. Moreover, plaintiff's attorneys argue the law violates provisions of the commerce clause of the US Constitution because it attempts to regulate commerce that is not necessarily initiated within the city nor under any control by the manufacturers themselves...Read More »



Industry Worried about EPA's Proposed Rule on GHG Emissions

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that their proposed Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule would impose a significant regulatory burden on a large number of very small solid waste disposal facilities "for a very small reduction in emissions."

On October 27, 2009, the EPA published a proposed rule that subjects facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) annually to construction and operating permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act. The Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Gas Tailoring Rule (the "Proposed Rule") applies to new facilities and existing facilities proposing major emissions modifications. Facilities subject to the Proposed Rule will be required to minimize GHG emissions through installation of controls based on Best Available Control Technology ("BACT"), which would be determined during the permitting process.

The EPA accepted comments on the proposal through December 28, 2009; a final rule is expected to be issued in the spring...Read More »



EPA to Develop Rules for Power Industry Cleanups

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry, along with the petroleum refining, chemical and coal product manufacturing industries, for development of new rules making them accountable for funding of any environmental cleanup from hazardous releases. The announcement comes six months after EPA began similar efforts to regulate financial assurances of hard rock miners and satisfy a February 2009 court order directing EPA to identify industries that would be subject to possible laws requiring companies to prove they can pay for cleanups under the Superfund law. According to the EPA, the chemical manufacturing industry generates about 19.8 million tons of hazardous waste and the petroleum and coal products industry generates 4.2 million tons. Coal ash is currently exempt from reporting as a waste, but EPA has committed to writing new rules to address what it calls "the significant cleanup costs that can be generated by this industry sector." The three industries combined contribute about 25 percent, 530 million pounds, of the total amount of on-site releases of hazardous substances, according to EPA. Hard rock mining represents the other 75 percent, EPA said. The agency expects to have the hard rock-mining financial obligation rulemaking finalized by 2011 but did not provide any such timeline for the three newly named industries.

EPA said it is also studying whether to develop financial assurance requirements for the waste management and remediation services, wood product manufacturing, fabricated metal product manufacturing, electronics and electrical equipment manufacturing, and facilities engaged in the recycling of EPA-regulated materials...Read More »



Governor Schwarzenegger Lists 244 Renewable Energy Projects; 70 Gigawatts

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that there are currently 244 renewable energy projects with a total capacity of 70 gigawatts (70,000 MW) proposed for the state which has already committed to getting 33% of its energy from such sources by 2010. The proposed projects include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydro technologies. At least 22 of them will have an installed power capacity of more than 200 MW, with a total of more than 9,000 MW. As a point of comparison, a typical mid-sized coal-fired power plant generates about 500 MW of electricity. About 50 of the projects hope to break ground by the end of 2010 in order to receive federal stimulus funds. Toward that goal, Schwarzenegger signed an agreement with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in October to expedite the permitting process for projects seeking stimulus funds. California uses about 8,000 MW of clean power a year. The state needs an additional 15,000 to 25,000 MW to reach its target...Read More »



Liquid Environmental Solutions Buys Industrial Water Services

Liquid Environmental Solutions (LES) has acquired privately held Industrial Water Services (IWS) which also specializes in the collection, treatment and disposal of non-hazardous liquid waste streams. The acquisition of IWS with wastewater treatment facilities in Chicago, IL, Jacksonville, FL, and Mobile, AL expands LES offerings "from coast to coast," helping it to become "the largest network of exclusively non-hazardous wastewater operations in the US," the company said. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Liquid Environmental Solutions collects treats and recovers materials from a wide variety of waste sources, including grease traps, industrial and manufacturing processes, used cooking oil and waste oil...Read More »



Georgia Landfill Will Power Marine Corps Base

Dougherty County, home to Albany, GA, recently signed a 20-year contract with neighboring Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) to provide them with gas from its Fleming/Gaissert Road Landfill. The Albany project will power a 1.9-megawatt generator that will provide 22 percent of its energy needs. The gas project, which is a first for the Marine Corps, goes a long way toward meeting its renewable energy goals, especially since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 orders the federal government, to the extent that is economically and technically feasible, to meet 7.5 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2013.

Under the MCLB Albany agreement, the county is responsible for collecting gas at the landfill and must provide the base with a minimum of 153,640 million British thermal units of gas per year. During the 20-year contract with the county, the Marine Corps expects to pay an average fee of $187,000 per year. For its part, the county will invest $3 million to upgrade the landfill's gas-collection equipment, while the Marine Corps is responsible for building the pipeline that will stretch 3 miles from the Landfill to the base and for all the gas-processing costs. Chevron Energy Solutions will build and maintain the base's generator, its pipeline and all the equipment needed to turn gas into electricity for a total fee of $62 million, which the Marines will pay over more than 20 years. Chevron will also be upgrading 18,000 light fixtures on the base as part of the bargain...Read More »



Rentech, ClearFuels Win $23 Million DOE Grant for Biorefinery

Rentech Inc. and ClearFuels Technology Inc. announced that they have been selected to receive up to $23 million as a grant from the U.S. DOE to construct a biomass gasifier at Rentech's Energy Technology Center in Denver. The grant, which is subject to final negotiation with the DOE, will be used to install a 20 ton-per-day ClearFuels biomass gasifier designed to produce synthesis gas from sugarcane bagasse (residue), virgin wood waste and other cellulosic feedstocks. It will be combined with the company's existing pilot facility at the site which produces 10 barrels per day of synthetic jet and diesel fuels from cellulosic feedstocks. Rentech expects the integrated biorefinery to provide the final design basis for commercial facilities that employ the combined technologies...Read More »



Waste Management Becomes Title Sponsor of PGA's Phoenix Open

Waste Management, Inc. signed on to be the title sponsor of the PGA's Phoenix Open which will hereafter be the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The company sees the venue as a showcase for its "Think Green" campaign that emphasize environmentally friendly waste management, recycling, renewable energy and sustainable solutions. Never mind that vast quantities of water needed to keep a golf course alive in the middle of a desert. The choice of its biggest competitor's back yard is suspicious. Stay tuned to see if Republic Services becomes a title sponsor of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo...Read More »


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