Weekly News Bulletin: Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2010


EPA Proposes First Time GHG, Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks

The Obama administration announced new rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants by requiring greater fuel efficiency for big trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles starting with 2014 models. Using authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, the US EPA in collaboration with the US Department of Transportation have introduced first of their kind regulations that call for a 20% reduction in heavy-vehicle emissions by 2018, which would require boosting fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon, compared with an estimated 6 mpg now. The agencies predict that the program will cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 250 million metric tons and save about 500 million barrels of oil over the life of the vehicles produced within the program's first five years.

Environmentalists welcomed the decision but truck makers and dealers expressed concern that higher prices might drive some trucking companies out of the market. The changes could add about $5,900 to the price of a new tractor-trailer that typically costs about $100,000, a senior Transportation Department official said during the news conference. EPA argues that "an operator of a semi-truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and have net savings up to $74,000 over the truck's useful life."...Read More »



Industry Still Critical of EPA Boiler Rule despite Concessions

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) says that EPA's concessions to soften its proposed air toxics rule for boilers does not go far enough. ACC sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Oct. 8 saying that despite agency plans to amend its boiler maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard, the final rule would still be far too strict and costly. In a Sep. 28 letter to concerned senators, Jackson proposed adopting an industry preferred method for "subcategorizing" boilers to set a varying air toxics standard depending on the type of boiler. ACC wants EPA to soften the so-called MACT "floors," which set emissions limits for various subcategories of boilers. "We strongly believe further changes are needed to protect domestic manufacturers and the approximately 60,000 chemical industry jobs that are at stake," wrote Cal Dooley, president and CEO of ACC in the letter. "The floor analysis . . . should be re-examined . . . to ensure that the finalrule is based on the best available science." Dooley also writes that "the proposed emission limits for liquid- and gas-fired boilers are far beyond what is required to ensure hazardous air pollutant emissions are minimized." For boilers burning natural and refinery fuel gases, ACC says work practices should be used instead of emissions controls, because these are inherently clean fuels with very low air toxics content. EPA is under court order to finalize the boiler MACT by a deadline of Jan.16, after winning a one-month extension of a previous Dec. 16 deadline for the rule...Read More »



Covanta 3Q Earnings Hurt by Unusual Charges

Covanta Holding Corp. (Fairfield, NJ) third quarter earnings fell 51 percent as operating expenses outpaced revenue growth. However, excluding one-time charges related to an Irish development project and a loan to improve its Harrisburg, PA facility, core profit increased to $0.28 per share from $0.26 per share in the third quarter of 2009. The non-cash special items had a $0.15 per share impact. Therefore, the company posted a profit of $0.13 per share or $20.2 million from $40.9 million posted a year ago. Revenue increased 7 percent to $437 million, up from $409 million a year ago helped by acquisitions and higher recycled metal prices and increased construction revenue. Earlier this year, Covanta bought Veolia Environnement's North American waste incineration contracts for $450 million. Its energy-from-waste business, which accounts for more than half of revenue, posted an 11% increase in revenue. Electricity and steam sales fell 8.2% mainly as a result of the economic downturn...Read More »



Covanta Threatens to Cease Development of Dublin, Ireland Project

Covanta Holding Corp. told investors that it has written off its entire $23 million investment in a proposed EUR$200 million waste-to-energy plant for the City Dublin Ireland known as the Poolbeg Incinerator. Covanta CEO Tony Orlando said the company has "no obligation" to proceed with the project and would not begin construction until it secured the necessary funding, and only "if and when" it made sense. The move is in response to escalating attacks on the project from Ireland's Environment Minister and leader of the Irish Green Party John Gormley who said it is too big for the city's needs and plans to introduce incineration levies, that might make it prohibitively expensive. Orlando indicated that Covanta would be more likely to divert any cash reserves in the future to the British market, where he described the regulatory framework as ''very, very different . . . very well-structured'' compared to Ireland...Read More »



IESI-BFC Third Quarter Profit and Revenue Higher

IESI-BFC Ltd. (Toronto, ON), North America's third largest waste management company after its acquisiton of Waste Services, completed in July, posted big gains in third quarter profit and revenue, helped by increasing volumes, particularly in its Canadian markets. Net income rose by 25 percent to $23.9 million, or $0.20 per share from $19.1 million, or $0.20 per share, a year ago. Adjusted net income was $31.7 million, or $0.26 per share, the company said. Revenues for the period increased to $436.3 million from $268.4 million in the year-ago period. Excluding third quarter revenues from the acquisition of Waste Services, Inc., reported revenues increased $42.2 million or 15.7%. Looking forward, for the fiscal year 2010, the company expects revenue in a range of $1.395 billion to $1.415 billion...Read More »



Energy Answers to Break Ground on Waste-to-Energy Plant and Eco-Park in Maryland

Energy Answers International (Albany, NY) said it is set to begin construction of a "state-of-the-art" 140 MW waste-to-energy project and Eco-Industrial Park in Baltimore, MD. Construction of the project is expected to begin in December 2010 with commercial operations to begin by December 2013. The company said it received all key permits for development of the 90-acre "brownfield" site formerly occupied by an FMC chemical plant. FMC Corp. will continue to own the site and conduct monitoring and remediation. The new facility will utilize processed materials derived from the municipal waste stream as its primary fuel source. Processed Refuse Fuel (PRF) will be produced from post-recycling, municipal, commercial and light industrial waste streams and will be processed at multiple off-site fuel production and recycling facilities...Read More »



DTE Completes Coal-Fired Plant to Biomass Conversion

DTE Energy Services (Ann Arbor, MI) said it has completed a new 40-megawatt biomass power plant in Cassville, WI, having converted a former coal-fired power plant known as the EJ Stoneman Station. DTE Energy owns and operates the plant and sells the power to its former owner, Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse, WI. Dairyland built the coal-fired power plant in 1951 and operated it for more than 40 years before selling in the 1990s. The new biomass facility produces electricity by burning wood waste including residue from forestry and tree trimming work as well as railroad ties, demolition waste and sawdust. Dairyland Power Cooperative vice president of strategic planning Dale Pohlman said that Dairyland's 'green' partnership with DTE Energy will supply the energy needs to power 28,000 homes across its system that includes 25 member distribution cooperatives and 16 municipal utilities...Read More »



US Ecology Shows Improvement in 3Q despite Profit Drop

Hazardous waste disposal firm US Ecology, Inc. (Boise, ID) said revenue and profits suffered in the third quarter mostly due to the completion of its one-time Honeywell project last year. Excluding that project, which contributed $16 million in one-time revenue in the third quarter of 2009, revenue would have increased 21%. This is largely due to increased waste volume from event or discrete remediation projects. Revenue coming from the firm's base, or recurring lines of business, were down roughly 3% compared with the year-ago quarter as a result of lower revenue from refinery, broker, and industrial clients that are still suffering from lower production levels. Operating margins increased close to 700 basis points, to 25% from 18%, from the year-ago quarter because of favorable operating leverage in the firm's business. For the third quarter, the company earned $3.9 million, or $0.22 per share, on revenue of $26 million compared to earning $4.2 million, or $0.23 per share, on revenue of $37.5 million in last year's third quarter. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Feeler said. "Our disposal margin once again topped 50% demonstrating the strong operating leverage in our business when volumes increase."...Read More »



Gulf Power Opens New Landfill Gas Project in Escambia County, FL

Gulf Power, a division of Southern Company (Atlanta, GA) has begun operating its first landfill gas-to-energy facility, also its first renewable energy project, at Escambia County's Perdido Landfill in Cantonment, FL. Gulf Power broke ground on its $5.3-million project last February at which time it signed a 20-year contract to purchase landfill gas from the county, which is expected to receive an average of $850,000 a year over the life of the contract. The 3.2 megawatt facility employs two 1,600-kilowatt Caterpillar generators and is expected to provide enough electricity to power more than 900 homes. Escambia County contributed $1.4 million to the project in order to upgrade its 70 methane extraction wells by adding 37 more. $950,000 of that investment came from federal stimulus money through a U.S. Department of Energy grant. There are 526 other landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the U.S., 15 of which are also in Florida...Read More »



Waste Connections Buys Central Kansas Hauler

Waste Connections, Inc. (Folsom, CA) is acquiring Stutzman Refuse Disposal Inc. of South Hutchinson, KS, a waste collection and recycling company that serves 50,000 customers and 25 cities in 14 counties of central kansas. Waste Connections said that Stutzman's market is contiguous to their own operations, implying that the deal, expected to close in early November, will likely yield immediate efficiencies...Read More »



Alter NRG to Increase Output of Proposed Plasma Plant in Ontario

Waste to energy company Alter NRG Corp. (Calgary, AB), which owns the Westinghouse plasma gasification technology, said that it plans to increase the energy output of its Dufferin County, ON project to 7.5 megawatts. The change comes amid a new by-law that allows the county to receive waste from all eight municipalities under its jurisdiction, or about 200 tonnes of waste per day instead of 75 tonnes as previously agreed. Alter NRG and the county signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) earlier this month in which they agree to build the facility and that the county will provide it with waste for a period of 20 years. Under the agreement, the Dufferin County has committed to work with the company in obtaining regulatory approval, project financing, and government grants for the project...Read More »



Heritage-Crystal Clean Posts Strong 3Q

Heritage-Crystal Clean (Elgin, IL) said third quarter profit was helped by a 20 percent jump in sales. Net income rose to $727 thousand from $569 thousand in the same quarter last year. Earnings per share remained unchanged at $0.05 as the weighted average shares outstanding rose to 14.2 million from 12 million last year. Revenue for the quarter increased to $26.7 million from $22.3 million last year, driven mainly by an 18% increase in same-branch sales. Chief Financial Officer Greg Ray said, "Our growing revenue in the used oil business is not expected to contribute to profits until we have the capacity to re-refine this material; consequently we have experienced erosion in our margin percentages that we expect to reverse when we begin to produce and sell base lubricating oil."...Read More »



Clean Harbors to Announce Third-Quarter Results on Nov. 3

Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA) plans to discuss third quarter earnings, its business outlook and growth strategy during a conference call on Wednesday, November 3 at 9 am (ET)...Read More »



EnergySolutions to Announce Third Quarter on Nov. 8

Nuclear waste management company EnergySolutions, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT) says it will report third quarter earnings after the market closes on November 8 and then host a conference call the following day at 10 am (ET) to discuss its financial results...Read More »


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