Weekly News Bulletin: Aug. 31-Sep. 6, 2010


Republicans Consider Measures to Oppose Strict EPA Coal Ash Rule

Republicans in Congress are considering use of the Congressional Review Act to oppose EPA's pending coal combustion ash (CCA) rules that would designate it as a hazardous waste. EPA has extended until November public comment period on its proposal to regulate CCA under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) either under strict hazardous waste rules (Subtitle C) or less-stringent solid waste rules (Subtitle D). A similar maneuver was attempted but failed last June when Senate Republicans led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sought to use the CRA to disapprove EPA's final finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. However, EPA's coal ash proposal has drawn far more bipartisan opposition than the climate endangerment finding, particularly given fears of the economic impacts and the detrimental effect on the coal ash beneficial reuse industry.

A bipartisan majority of the House Energy & Commerce Committee sent a July 29 letter to EPA expressing "strong opposition" to regulating coal waste as hazardous under RCRA subtitle C. The 31 members signing the letter included Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI), oversight subcommittee chair, Rick Boucher (D-VA), technology subcommittee chairman, and Fred Upton (R-MI), ranking member of the environment subcommittee...Read More »



New Study Finds Coal Ash Water-Contamination Much Worse Than Previously Estimated

On the eve of US EPA's public hearings over its controversial proposal to regulate coal ash from coal-fired power plants, activists are ramping up the debate with a new study that finds that coal ash contamination is much worse than previously estimated and finds 39 more contaminated sites in 21 states. Behind the study is the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice who have argued that because coal ash contains varying degrees of toxic metals like lead and arsenic and other pollutants, it should be regulated as a hazardous waste under direct supervision of the EPA. The new report identifies 39 coal ash dump sites not previously considered which it adds to 31 such sites identified in a February EIP/Earthjustice report. Taken together with 67 sites already identified by the EPA, it brings the total number to 137 coal ash contaminated sites in 34 states.

Of the 39 sites analyzed, 35 had groundwater monitoring wells on the grounds of the waste disposal area, all of which showed concentration of heavy metals that exceeded federal health standards. "This is a huge and very real public health issue for Americans," said the director of the study, Jeff Stant of the Environmental Integrity Project. "Coal ash is putting drinking water around these sites at risk."

The U.S. burns more than 1 billion tons of coal per year to generate about half of the nation's electricity. This results in at least 125 million tons of coal waste, including ash and the sludge left from scrubbers that remove air pollutants. About 40 percent or 50 million tons of coal ash is beneficially reused in cement and other products. Industry argues that treating coal ash as a hazardous waste would drive up costs, raising everyone's energy bill without commensurate environmental benefit and obliterate beneficial reuse as buyers would eschew the stigma of a "hazardous" labeled product...Read More »



KiOR to Build Mississippi Renewable Crude Oil Plants

KiOR Inc. (Pasadena, TX) has won a contract to build five commercial-scale renewable crude oil production facilities in Mississippi for which it will receive a $75 million state loan and other assistance. The agreement calls for KiOR to build three of the facilities during the next five years. By 2015, the project could deliver more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs and an estimated $500 million worth of investment. The company plans to utilize Mississippi's abundant supply of woody biomass to produce commercial volumes of "re-crude," a high-quality crude oil that can be refined into conventional fuel products, including gasoline and diesel, and deployed in the country's existing transportation fuels infrastructure. KiOR stands out from many biofuels companies in that it is making a petroleum replacement, rather than ethanol. Its oil product, now being made at a demonstration plant in Texas, can be shipped in pipelines and treated in existing refineries to make gasoline or diesel equivalents. The technology utilizes a catalyst in a fluid catalytic cracking process to convert biomass, such as woodchips or agriculture residue, into a petroleum replacement. The process also yields gases that can be burned to make electricity to power the equipment. The company, backed by Khosla Ventures, raised $110 million last July...Read More »



US Ecology to Buy $9 Million Hazardous Treatment Facility in California

US Ecology Inc. (Boise, ID), formerly American Ecology, has agreed to acquire a permitted hazardous treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facility in Vernon, CA from Siemens Water Technologies Corp. The rail-served facility provides hazardous liquid waste services to the southern California industrial market. Under the deal, US Ecology will buy substantially all of the assets and assume certain liabilities for $8.65 million in cash. The acquisition which is expected to close before the end of the year, is initially expected to be neutral to earnings and accretive thereafter. The facility has generated between $9 million and $11 million annually over the last several years. President and Chief Executive Jim Baumgardner stated, "In addition to increasing our service capability, this acquisition provides US Ecology with a physical presence in the largest industrial market on the West Coast which is currently served by our hazardous waste disposal facility in Beatty, Nevada."...Read More »



Connecticut Close to Implementing E-Waste Based on Market Share

Consumer Electronics manufacturers have until today to dispute the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) methods for determining market share under the state's new e-waste program that begins in January. Under state rules passed in July 2007 and which took effect June 1, manufacturers are required to finance the transportation and recycling of computers, monitors, printers and televisions in accordance with their market share of sales within the state. Accurate market share data for covered electronic devices (CEDs) are crucial to the program's operation because the department will use them to calculate how much manufacturers must pay the state in annual registration fees and what state-authorized recyclers may charge manufacturers for hauling e-waste from municipal collection sites. Connecticut used 2009 sales surveys from IDC Research, iSuppli and the National Center for Electronics Recycling as its "primary sources" to compute the market share determinations, the DEP said...Read More »



Dow Corning Considers Biomass to Power its Midland Plant

Silicone manufacturer Dow Corning is thinking of installing a biomass energy plant to provide steam and electricity to its Midland, MI manufacturing facility. Power would come from the gasification of waste wood chips from existing forest harvesting, mills, as well as dead trees or old growth harvested as part of sustainable forestry initiatives. Jim Smith, Dow Corning Midland site manager, said "Biomass would offer our site the long-term, cost effective and renewable supply of steam and energy we need as we continue to invest and grow our Midland operations." Cirque Energy, LLC, which would build, own and operate the plant for Dow, recently filed for environmental permits with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment in a process that could take six months. Dow would require that any wood used in the Cirque Energy facility be independently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)...Read More »



Waste Pro Buys Citrus Waste Services in Florida

Waste Pro USA (Longwood, FL) completed its purchase of Hernando-FL based Citrus Waste Services, marking its third acquisition this year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Citrus Waste Services is a waste collection and recycling company serving residential and commercial customers in Citrus and Marion counties in West Central Florida. The purchase also includes offices and equipment comprised of front loaders, rear loaders, roll-off trucks and containers...Read More »



Detroit Edison Gets Approval for 20 MW of Renewable Energy

Detroit Edison, a subsidiary of DTE Energy, said that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has approved two 20-year renewable power contracts totaling 20 megawatts. One contract is for 17 megawatts of renewable power from L'Anse Warden Electric Co. which will produce electricity from wood waste biofuels at a former coal-burning facility in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The second contract is for 3 megawatts of power from WM Renewable Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc., which will burn landfill gas at its Eagle Valley Landfill in Lake Orion, MI. The utility company said 10 percent of its energy production would come from renewable resources by 2015...Read More »



Clean Harbors to Host Webcast to Discuss Future on Sep. 16

Clean Harbors (Norwell, MA) is inviting all interested parties to a live investor day webcast on Thursday, September 16 at 8:30 am (ET). Chairman and CEO Alan S. McKim will be joined by Chief Financial Officer James M. Rutledge and four other members of the executive management team to provide an overview of the company's businesses, growth strategy and industry outlook through a series of presentations, followed by a question-and-answer session. The company recently announced that its second quarter revenues were more than double last year's helped by work related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, robust internal growth and added business from its recent acquisition of Canadian oil services firm Eveready Inc...Read More »



Tire International Buying Land to Build Tire Recycling Plant in Pennsylvania

Tire International Environmental Solutions, Inc., is planning to buy 35 acres of industrial land in Falls Township, PA to site a new state-of-the-art tire recycling facility. In July the company entered a joint venture with TIRES S.p.A. of Spain to jointly develop and own the facility that will utilize TIRES' proprietary waste-to-value tire recycling technology. Antonio Care, CEO of Tire International, stated, "With the purchase of the property at KIPC, and the construction of the proposed state-of-the-art facility utilizing the TIRES S.p.A. process equipment, there is no doubt in my mind that the Company can become a leader in waste-to-value, green technology, and become one of the top tire recyclers in North America."...Read More »



Otto Environmental Makes Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies

Waste equipment manufacturer Otto Environmental Systems (Charlotte, NC) made it to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US. Even though Otto ranks 3,297 on the list, it ranks 102 among its peers in the manufacturing sector of the list. The company has posted year-over-year growth of 25% since 2005, especially remarkable given the economic conditions of the last three years...Read More »


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