Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 30-Apr. 5, 2010


EPA Advances Rule that could make it Harder to Burn Waste as Fuel

The EPA sent to the White House for review a proposal to define non-hazardous solid waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) that determines which materials that are burned as fuel qualify as waste and are thus subject to stricter air rules for incinerators. Those materials burned as fuel that are not defined as solid waste under RCRA escape regulation under the pending strict new source performance standards (NSPS) for incinerators issued under section 129 of the Clean Air Act. Instead, they are subject to less stringent standards for boilers under section 112 of the CAA. Industry and states worry about the negative economic impacts if materials such as tires or sewage sludge that are often burned as fuel become subject to stricter emissions rules that precludes their future use as fuel.

The EPA has promoted the use of tires as fuel as an environmentally sound alternative to disposal in landfills. Environmentalists complain that they emit toxic contaminants that can disproportionately impact low-income communities. Industry has also complained that EPA's delay in proposing rules has stalled project investments in a poor economy and related air quality benefits achieved by moving away from fossil fuels...Read More »



CalEPA to Investigate CWM's Kettleman City Landfill

In addressing growing concerns about a rise in birth defects in the area around Waste Management's Kettleman City Landfill, the California EPA said it has plans to take air, soil and random drinking water samples to look for potential sources of pollutants. State officials say at least 11 children in the town of 1,500 were born with health problems since 2007. Residents have blamed it on the nearby Chemical Waste Management landfill, the largest hazardous waste facility in the west...Read More »



EPA Plans New Rule to Strengthen CAFO Waste Management

The EPA is initiating a rulemaking that would require smaller farms to apply for Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits and better manage manure runoff. In its February Action Initiation List, the EPA said it is planning to revise its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in order to broaden the agency's regulatory authority, specifically in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. However, the notice indicates that the rulemaking is likely to become a national blueprint. Under policies promulgated by the Bush administration, smaller operations were exempt and large CAFOs needed discharge permits only in cases where they discharged. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said "It's our hope that the states will be addressing these pollution sources effectively, and that federal requirements in some or all of the states will ultimately prove unnecessary."...Read More »



LA and Others Press High Court to Overturn Ban on Biosolids Disposal

Officials from Los Angeles and Orange counties are urging the Supreme Court to help them challenge a nearby county's ban on spreading sewage sludge on farmland, arguing that an appellate court's ruling ignored the impact on interstate commerce. They argue that if an appellate ruling is left to stand, it could lead to a biosolids war among local governments that might copy the ban put in place by nearby Kern County. "Kern's ban, if upheld, likely will encourage other rural counties to enact similar bans or onerous restrictions. Such bans will likely in turn lead to retaliatory measures from out-of-county interests," their petition states.

The petitioners in LA say the 9th Circuit decision conflicts with the Supreme Court's own decisions, citing several cases including C & A Carbone v. Town of Clarkstown, which generally blocked local governments from banning waste importation...Read More »



Federal Judge to Allow Lawsuits against TVA, with Limits

A federal judge is allowing lawsuits filed by residents seeking economic damages related to a spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) site in Kingston, TN that sent a billion gallons of sludge onto nearby land. However, U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan dismissed those seeking punitive damages or seeking jury trials on the basis that the TVA is a quasi-governmental agency. TVA sought the dismissal of the lawsuits under the discretionary function doctrine, which shields federal agencies from lawsuits arising from policy decisions. The plaintiffs argued that Congress waived TVA's sovereign immunity in the TVA Act, which created the utility in 1933. Varlan drew the distinction between the initial policy decision to build the containment pond versus the possibly negligent operation and maintenance of the facility that may have led to one of the country's largest environmental disasters. To date, the TVA has spent $231 million cleaning up the spill which is expected to cost between $933 million and $1.2 billion to complete. TVA noted in its annual report that 14 lawsuits related to the spill have been filed in federal court...Read More »



Heritage-Crystal Clean Moving on Re-Refining Project

Heritage-Crystal Clean (HCCI) said this week that it is moving forward with plans to develop a $40 million oil re-refining plant. The re-refinery is being designed to process 50 million gallons per year of used oil feedstock to yield 30 million gallons of lubricating base oil. It will be built in the state of Indiana, and is expected to begin production by 2012. The project fits neatly with the company's existing business. Currently, HCCI sells the used oil collected by its branches as fuel to electric utilities and asphalt plants, but believes it would enjoy higher profit margins by re-refining the oil instead for sale as a higher value-added product. The company is drawing on previous experience having developed two other such sites that currently constitute 70 percent of the market between them. The company is currently evaluating a range of alternative financing plans to fund the project...Read More »



Sen. Lautenberg Introduces Superfund Restoration Taxes

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) recently introduced the Polluter Pays Restoration Act, legislation that restores a tax on large industrial companies to pay cleanup costs on contaminated Superfund sites. "Americans are paying the cleanup bill for messes made by irresponsible companies," said Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate Superfund subcommittee. "It's time to shift the financial burden away from taxpayers, and back to the industries that contaminate these properties." Superfund, which was signed into law in 1980, included a tax on companies that expired in 1995. It was never renewed and the trust fund was allowed to go bankrupt in 2003 during the Bush Administration. Lautenberg and co-sponsors Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) see it as a way to "ensure polluters, instead of the public, fund the cleanup of Superfund sites."...Read More »



Waste Management to Report First Quarter on April 29

Waste Management said it will release first quarter earnings prior to the opening of the market on Thursday, April 29 and host a conference call later that morning at 10 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss them...Read More »



Republic Services to Report First Quarter on April 29

Republic Services will report first quarter earnings and host a conference call to discuss them on Thursday, April 29 at 5 p.m. (Eastern)...Read More »



Sen. Lugar Offers New Energy Legislation without Cap-and-Trade

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) announced that he is developing an energy plan intended to meet climate improving goals, notably without cap-and-trade, by conserving energy and saving money. Instead, Lugar said his plan focuses on energy conservation, which would help Americans save money, maintain global technological competitiveness and reduce US dependence on foreign oil, at no cost to GDP growth and with no net job losses. Lugar said his plan would establish a national building performance standard; create incentive programs, such as low-interest loans, for retrofitting homes and commercial buildings; establish a national mandate for the use of cleaner energy sources that sets guidelines but gives states flexibility; and enhance fiscally-responsible federal supports, such as loan guarantees...Read More »


Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin