Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 29-Jul. 5, 2010


Republic Services' CEO O'Conner to Retire, Slager to Take the Wheel

Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) said that its Chairman and Chief Executive James O'Connor, 61, plans to retire early next year. Succeeding him is the company's current Chief Operating Officer, Donald Slager, 48, who will become president and chief executive officer on Jan. 1, 2011 and has been named a board member effective immediately. O'Connor will remain chairman of the board until the next annual shareholder meeting, which is set for May 2011. Slager was the chief operating officer of Allied Waste Industries until it was acquired by Republic in 2008. He has been in the waste and recycling industry for 30 years. Slager named Kevin Walbridge as the new executive vice president for operations. The appointment is the result of a "comprehensive succession planning process," the company said in a statement...Read More »



EPA to Clarify Whether Coal Ash Rules Would Apply to Inactive Sites

US EPA officials said they are working to determine if the agency's proposal to issue a first-time hazardous waste rule for the disposal of coal ash would retroactively apply to coal waste surface impoundments that are no longer operating, potentially affecting hundreds of inactive sites. The agency says it will issue a clarification of intent about whether the proposal would capture inactive sites so that groups commenting on the agency's plan can adjust their comments accordingly.

Jim Roewer, executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG), said that EPA's proposal to regulate ash as hazardous under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) amounts to an "expansion of RCRA" because it would retroactively apply to inactive disposal sites. EPA is also taking comment on less-stringent regulation of coal ash as solid waste under subtitle D of RCRA. In this situation, the agency may also pursue separate financial assurance requirements for coal waste facilities under section 108 of the Superfund law, otherwise lacking under subtitle D. EPA published the proposal in the June 21 Federal Register, beginning a formal 90-day comment period...Read More »



Electronics Industry Settles E-Waste Lawsuit against New York City

Exactly one month after New York Gov. David Paterson signed his state's e-waste measure into law, a federal court judge in Manhattan dismissed a lawsuit involving New York City's controversial e-waste recycling and collection law. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) filed suit last July against the city and its co-defendant, the Natural Resources Defense Council, arguing that the law was unconstitutional, too restrictive, and placed an undue burden on manufacturers to take back used electronics. City workers' unions joined the fray arguing that the law gave jobs to the private sector that were the exclusive domain of city sanitation workers. U.S. District Judge William Pauley declared the issue moot since the state of New York passed its own law on May 28 that supersedes that of the city, and all other local governments in the state...Read More »



US Court Rejects GE Argument that Superfund is Unconstitutional

A US appeals court has rejected a legal challenge by General Electric Company (GE) to US EPA orders directing it to clean up hazardous waste. GE had argued that EPA's application of Superfund law governing the cleanup of hazardous waste sites is unconstitutional. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington sided with a lower court, rejecting the company's argument that the agency violated its due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. At issue, is a provision of Superfund law that denied the company a hearing in court to challenge the government's claims. The lawsuit was filed in 2000 before the company agreed to clean up a 40-mile stretch of the Hudson River polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). GE had argued that the mere issuance of an order could inflict immediate, serious, and irreparable damage by depressing a company's stock price and increasing its cost of financing. But the court rejected that argument saying "Such 'consequential' injuries -- injuries resulting not from EPA's issuance of the" order "but from market reactions to it -- are insufficient to merit" constitutional due process protection, Judge David Tatel wrote in the ruling. The case is General Electric Co. v. Jackson, 09-5092...Read More »



Economic Indicator? Recovered Paper Consumption on the Rise

Total domestic consumption of recovered paper rose by 1.3 percent to 2.6 million tons in May representing a 7.1 percent gain since last year; that is, according to the latest report by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). Compared to the same five months of 2009, consumption is up 8.5%. mixed paper increased 5.8 percent versus last year, newspaper increased 5.2 percent, corrugated increased 11.7 percent and pulp substitutes were up 2.2 percent. High grade deinking was the one exception, with a yearly decline of 14.6 percent...Read More »



Energy Answers Explores New Waste-to-Energy Plant in Baltimore

Energy Answers International (Albany, NY) held a public meeting near south Baltimore, MD, to discuss its proposal to develop a $1 billion 120-megawatt waste-to-energy facility there. Project manager Kurt Kramer said that the facility would be built to gold LEED standards and employ boiler technology used in coal-burning power plants to generate electricity and steam from shredded municipal waste, tires, auto fluff and wood wastes. He said it would be more efficient and cleaner than standard waste-to-energy plants and exceed federal pollution-control requirements for emissions of particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and lead, among other things, all while reducing waste otherwise headed to the landfill. The plant would employ about 200 once operational and contribute an estimated $30 million per year to the local economy. It would be financed in part by up to $300 million in federal economic stimulus funds...Read More »



Pennsylvania Gives Blessing to WM's Alliance Landfill Expansion

After nearly a decade of rejection, Waste Management's Alliance Landfill in Lackawanna County, PA cleared a major hurdle on its way to winning an 87-acre expansion along with a commensurate increase in daily acceptance from 2,000 tons to 4,000 tons. This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved the company's environmental assessment of the expansion. "The landfill was able to document to the department that the benefits for this proposal clearly outweigh the potential harms," said Mark Carmon, a spokesman for DEP. The DEP still needs to weigh in Alliance's engineering plans with regard to groundwater monitoring and gas management before it gives final approval.

Background: The so-called "harms / benefits" test employed by the DEP dates to the late 90's when the state, then under Gov. Tom Ridge, was looking for ways to stem rapidly rising waste imports, primarily from New York and New Jersey, and out of concern for its citizens living near its rapidly expanding landfills...Read More »



Michigan Utility Signs for 240 MW Renewable Energy Purchase Agreements

Michigan utility Consumers Energy recently signed for 240 Megawatts of renewable energy under in four separate power purchase agreements. Among them is a 20-year agreement to buy 12.8 megawatts of renewable energy from a landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) plant at the Waste Management owned Pine Tree Acres landfill near Richmond, MI. That project commences in 2012. Consumers Energy, which hails itself as one of the nation's largest combination electric and natural gas utilities, has a generating capacity of more than 8,950 megawatts and serves 2.5 million customers (6.5 million end users) throughout Michigan...Read More »



Waste Management Builds $2 Billion Financing Deal

Waste Management has established a three-year, $2 billion revolving credit facility with a syndicate of banks including Bank of America N.A. as administrator and JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. and Barclays Capital as co-syndication agents. The new facility replaces the company's existing five-year, $2.4 billion revolving facility, which would have expired in August 2011. This follows an announcement earlier in the month, of a public offering of $600 million of 10-year 4.75% senior notes...Read More »



Plasco Energy Signs Joint Venture for Plant in China

Plasco Energy Group (Ottawa, ON) announced a joint venture with China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection (CECEP) Group to build a 300 ton-per-day waste-to-energy facility in Beijing, China by the "second quarter of 2012." The plasma gasification plant will be about a third larger than one planned for Red Deer, AB and similar in design to a pilot project operating in west Ottawa. The Beijing facility is expected to cost $170 million to build and will be financed by its joint venture partners with a mix of debt and equity. The plant will earn revenues from disposal fees and from selling the power produced. Last week, an Alberta environmental agency gave a $10-million grant to Plasco Alberta to build the Red Deer plant originally announced two years ago.

The giant Chinese state-owned CECEP, with 30,000 employees, was formed in 1988 to promote and develop environmental protection technology and projects. Since then it has invested the equivalent of $3.5 billion (23 billion yuan) in national energy-conservation and capital construction projects...Read More »



Canadian Firm Explores Biomass-to-Fuel Plant in Montana

Canadian biofuel company CORE BioFuel Inc. (Houston, BC) says that it is exploring sites in northwest Montana to locate a plant that converts biomass, including wood wastes, into high-octane gasoline. The company is currently developing a demonstration facility in British Columbia. Their system employs so-called "off-the-shelf" technology that transforms wood chips into syngas, a process the company touts as carbon neutral. The hydrogen-rich mixture combining carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, syngas is then run through a reactor to create various fuels, including a 92-octane alternative to petroleum gasoline. The demonstration plant in Houston, B.C., is expected to produce roughly 18 million gallons of gasoline and six million gallons of distilled water per year and will generate its own electric power. It adjoins the world's largest lumber mill, Canfor and is expected to be up and running by the end of 2012, about the same time as the hoped for Montana plant...Read More »



Smurfit-Stone to Host Conference Call to Discuss Emergence from Bankruptcy

Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. (Chicago, IL), the paper packaging giant and major paper recycler, said it will host a conference call on Thursday, July 1 at 11 am (eastern) to discuss its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Last week a judge signed off on a revised plan that incorporated a settlement with shareholders who challenged an earlier restructuring strategy as unfair. The settlement gives existing common and preferred shareholders 4.5% of the reorganized company; the rest, 95.5% of new Smurfit-Stone, goes to unsecured creditors. Smurfit-Stone resorted to bankruptcy protection last year when the global slump depressed the sales of consumer goods. The Chapter 11 plan swaps out more than $2 billion in unsecured debt for equity, leaving the reorganized company with a lighter balance sheet...Read More »


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