Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 8-14, 2010


EPA Will Hold Hearings on Emissions Rules; Industry Says Too Strict

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will hold public hearings this month on its proposals to cut mercury emissions and reduce other toxic air pollutants from industrial and institutional boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. Even before the announcement however, industry has been raising concerns over the complexity of the proposed rules, including redefining what qualifies as "waste" for triggering those rules, stringency of the proposed emission limits, the lack of existing technology to meet those limits, and the tight court-ordered deadline for issuing the rules. It is likely that industry will ask for more time to comment on EPA's April 30 proposal to broaden the definition of "non-hazardous waste" under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), a key question in determining which facilities burning materials would fall under a strict maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard for incinerators, which burn waste, rather than a less stringent proposal to limit air toxics from boilers, which burn secondary materials...Read More »



Google to Buy Carbon Offsets from Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

Google Inc., owner of the most popular Internet search engine, said it will purchase carbon credits generated by a landfill gas-to-energy project in Berkeley County, SC, through 2013 as part of its commitment to become a carbon neutral company. The 3 megawatt Berkeley Green Power Project will create an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 metric tons of carbon offsets, comparable to the emissions from the electricity consumed by about 45,000 households per year. Under joint agreements, Google will purchase the offsets with the help of Utah-based Blue Source LLC, a developer of green energy projects, Berkeley County Water & Sanitation (BCWS), which operates the landfill-gas-to-energy project, and Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility, which purchases the power. Blue Source will quantify and market the emission reductions in the form of voluntary carbon credits after registering them on the Climate Action Reserve's public registry. The credits Google purchases will be retired and not allowed to be further sold or traded. "This project is a terrific example of how public and private sectors can work together in the voluntary carbon market to make a positive impact on our environment," said Annika Colston, vice president of Blue Source...Read More »



Waste Management President O'Donnell to Leave Company

Lawrence O'Donnell, the president and COO of Waste Management, and recently the star of a reality TV show, announced that he is leaving the company at the end of the month. CEO David Steiner will assume his duties until a replacement is named. In a company statement, Steiner said that O'Donnell "demonstrated the capability and desire to become a CEO" but acknowledged that it would be difficult for him to pursue that goal "while performing his duties as president." O'Donnell gained national attention after appearing on "Undercover Boss," a CBS reality show featuring top executives who pose as regular employees, which premiered following the Super Bowl in February. He joined the company in January 2000, as part of a new management team to turn the company around. He later became president and COO in April 2004. "The company is well positioned for continued progress and success, and now is a good time to pursue my next goal," O'Donnell said in a statement. "I wish each WM employee and their family continued success."...Read More »



EPA Withdraws Emission Comparable Fuels Rule

As expected and following much criticism from activists, the US EPA has withdrawn its controversial Emission Comparable Fuels (ECF) rule. The rule, which became effective in January this year, was intended to encourage recycling or conversion to energy of wastes otherwise considered hazardous, as long as any emissions from the process were less than or equal to those of fuel oil. It also meant to remove regulatory costs by reclassifying certain manufacturing byproducts as non-wastes. The rule has been criticized for allowing hazardous waste to evade the hazardous waste regulatory system, and for being difficult to administer. Industry too had been critical of the burdensome reporting requirements and overly detailed prescriptive conditions for reclassification required by the rule...Read More »



Casella Waste Net Loss Narrows on Improved Volume and Revenues

Casella Waste Systems reported that its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed on increased sales, and lower operating expenses, essentially beating most analysts' expectations. The net loss for the quarter narrowed to $5.15 million or $0.20 per share from $68.45 million or $2.67 per share last year. Although, last year's quarter results included a good will impairment charge of $55.29 million. The company has been posting quarterly losses for more than a year, fighting lower volumes and weak prices for recycled commodities with layoffs, price increases and cuts to capital spending. Revenues however, increased to $130.72 million from $117.26 million last year aided by the first volume increase in the last eight periods and rising prices paid for recycled materials, a big component of Casella's business. The company now expects fiscal 2011 revenues to be between $532 million and $542 million...Read More »



Industry Explores Exemption to Impending Greenhouse Limits

Quick on the heels of EPA's recently finalized greenhouse gas (GHG) "tailoring" rule are efforts by utility and other industry officials to find an exemption from Clean Air Act best available control technology (BACT) emission reduction requirements. One approach would revive an exemption for facilities that meet energy efficiency and other criteria. The GHG "tailoring" rule, which sets the thresholds for when facilities must begin installing BACT to control GHGs, will begin next year at facilities that emit 100,000 tons per year or more. However, there is still disagreement over what technology qualifies as BACT for GHGs. Industry is working on an exemption for facilities that meet several criteria for improving energy efficiency, protect against additional adverse impacts to the health of nearby communities, and if they employ only certifiably "clean" technologies. They argue that without some exemptions, companies would be reluctant to pursue environmentally beneficial projects simply because they would trigger BACT review...Read More »



Waste Management is Offering $600 Million in Notes

Waste Management is selling $600 million of 4.75% 10-year senior notes. The offering is expected to close on June 8, 2010. Interest will be payable semiannually. Proceeds of the sale will repay $600 million of 7.375% senior notes that mature in August this year. The company previously sold $600 million of 6.125% senior notes in November 2009 using those funds for acquisitions, including the company's purchase of a 40% stake in Shanghai Environment Group, a company focused on developing waste-to-energy plants in China. However, Waste Management's interest burden increased by approximately $65 million due to the issuance. Despite its relatively high debt-to-capitalization (57.4% as of Mar. 31), the company holds a significant amount of cash and continues to generate strong cash flow despite the ailing economy...Read More »



Waste Services Shareholders to Vote on Merger, With SEC Review Completed

IESI-BFC Ltd. and Waste Services Inc. said that the SEC has completed its review of its proxy statement and prospectus for their proposed merger. WSI shareholders will vote on the deal on June 30. The two companies announced that IESI-BFC would buy Waste Services for $370 million back in November last year. The deal will create North America's third largest waste management company with estimated annual revenue of $1.5 billion. Completion of the transaction remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain other closing conditions, including approval from WSI shareholders and the Canadian Competition Bureau. Under the terms of the definitive merger deal, IESI-BFC will issue 27.8 million common shares to shareholders of Waste Services, representing about 23% ownership in the combined company. Shareholders of Waste Services, or WSI, will get 0.5833 common shares of IESI-BFC for each WSI common share that they hold. The merged entity will be headquartered in Toronto and will trade under the symbol "BIN" on the New York as well as Toronto stock exchanges. Keith Carrigan, currently IESI-BFC's vice Chairman and CEO, will head the combined company...Read More »



Waste Management Buys Medical Waste Operation in Phoenix

Waste Management announced that its subsidiary WM Healthcare Solutions, Inc. is acquiring a medical waste processing facility in Phoenix, AZ. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The seller is Milum Textile Services Co., a provider of linen services and medical waste collection and treatment services. The 35,000 square-feet facility, which includes a 30 ton per day autoclave unit, currently serves 250 licensed healthcare facility customers. "Our acquisition of Milum's medical waste autoclave facility is another step forward in growing our medical waste business," said Mike Archer, general manager of WM Healthcare.

Beginning in late 2008, Waste Management began a series of acquisitions in the medical waste services arena with an eye towards building its credentials as a full service provider able to offer its customers a complete portfolio of waste and resource management options. Last month, WM acquired certain Midwestern assets of MedServe, Inc. that were required divestitures of Stericycle which recently acquired that company. Last October, WM acquired Mountain High Medical Disposal Services, Inc., a medical waste firm serving the Salt Lake City area and Idaho. In April, 2009, WM bought PharmEcology Associates, a medical waste consulting firm. In March 2009, WM bought a medical waste operation in Woodstock, GA. In November, 2008 WM bought Spectrum Environmental Solutions of Escondido, CA...Read More »



Former TVA Chief to Head Company's US Biomass Operations

London-based Meridian Power, which is developing a series of large-scale biomass fired power plants located in the US and UK, has named former TVA chief Glenn McCullough Jr. to head its US business. The company said Mississippi would be the location its first US plant although no site has been chosen. It is to be one of six 100- to 150-megawatt large-scale biomass-fired power plants it wants to build in the Southeast. Meridian Power's CEO, Marco Dell'Aquila, commented: "Glenn is a highly regarded professional with a distinguished career in the power sector and Meridian Power is delighted that he joined us to build a significant biomass business in the US...Read More »


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