The EPA may tighten existing criteria and toxic emission limits for light duty vehicles in order to offset increases in conventional air pollution from the added use of renewable fuels expected as a result of EPA's renewable fuels standard (RFS), which was designed to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs). The agency in its February "Action Initiation List" said it is currently writing a notice of proposed rulemaking for "Tier 3" vehicle emission and fuel standards and considering changes to the existing sulfur and fuel volatility standards. Paul Argyropoulos of EPA's Office of Transportation & Air Quality told a May 19 Department of Energy (DOE) meeting in Washington, DC, that it is "very likely" the agency will propose additional emission controls beyond those in Tier 2, in order to meet a 2007 energy law requirement to offset pollution increases from its RFS program. According to EPA's "Rulemaking Gateway" of pending regulations, EPA will issue a proposed Tier 3 rule in January 2012.
The 2007 energy law, which set goals for renewable fuels production, tasked EPA with completing a study to determine whether the renewable fuel volumes required under the RFS program "will adversely impact air quality as a result of changes in vehicle and engine emissions of air pollutants," as well as "promulgate fuel regulations to implement appropriate measures to mitigate, to the greatest extent achievable, considering the results of the study."...Read More »
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), which represents publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants, is suing EPA over its air toxics rule for sewage sludge incinerators, arguing that the regulation has major scientific and legal flaws which underestimate its potentially massive costs on wastewater utilities. NACWA filed suit May 6 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the agency's new source performance standards and emissions guidelines for sewage sludge incineration units. EPA published the final rule on the March 21 as part of a suite of regulations -- including a criticized maximum achievable control technology standard to cut boilers' toxic emissions (the Boiler MACT) -- that other industry groups are asking the agency to reconsider and are challenging in court. Prior to the rule's passage, NACWA fought to have sewage sludge incinerators regulated under less-stringent legal requirements contained in section 112 of the Clean Air Act rather than under stricter section 129 requirements as eventually adopted by EPA which decided that the sludge they burn is a waste, not a fuel...Read More »
Waste Control Specialists (WCS), which has developed a low-level radioactive waste disposal site in Andrews County in West Texas, praised the Texas Legislature for passing a bill that allows it to receive out-of-state low-level radioactive wastes. In 2009 the company won a 15-year license from the state environmental commission to take up to 2.31 million cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste. Originally, the 1,338-acre concrete-reinforced facility was to serve only Texas and Vermont, the sole members of a peculiar compact that grew out of federal laws encouraging agreements among states to dispose of radioactive waste. Now the new law (SB 1504) allows the state to accept waste from 35 other states. It also calls for a surcharge on most out-of-state waste received. The measure comes amid a disposal crisis for low-level radioactive waste-contaminated materials and equipment from nuclear plants, research laboratories and hospitals, since only three other sites in the country can accept them. The other sites do not take all kinds of materials within the low-level category or can only take waste from certain states. That left 36 states with no permanent solutions.
WCS is a subsidiary of Valhi, whose board chairman is billionaire Harold Simmons, a Dallas investor who has been one of the largest donors to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In 2004 he gained visibility for supporting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth which attacked presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam record...Read More »
Waste-to-fuel and chemicals company Enerkem, Inc. (Montreal, Quebec) closed a C$59 million round of financing in which Valero Energy Corp. joins existing investors Waste Management, Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and Cycle Capital, who have each invested in the new equity round. This is the latest clean energy bet for refining giant Valero Energy which currently has investments in 10 ethanol plants throughout the Midwest. "With Valero joining Waste Management as a strategic investor, Enerkem becomes one of the very few renewable products companies that is aligned with industry leaders from both upstream and downstream parts of the business," said Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem. Enerkem operates a 1.3 million gallon-per-year demonstration facility in Westbury, Quebec, and is developing two full scale commercial facilities with an initial capacity to produce 10 million gallon-per-year. The first of these is under construction in Edmonton, Alberta and the other is to be in Pontotoc, Mississippi where the company expects to break ground this year...Read More »
The troubled Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) won a federal judgment against its insurance company Traveler's which had sought to limit coverage for losses totaling $75 million over the past decade. According to the Providence Journal, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America had sought a ruling that money squandered by the RIRRC's former leaders should be treated as a single loss under its insurance policy, which would have made it liable for only $1 million in coverage. Instead, RIRRC's lawyers argued that the misspent money constituted more than a dozen distinct losses from multiple employees. U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith left the amount of coverage to a jury, but ruled that he interpreted the policy to allow coverage for more than a single loss. At issue are losses brought to light in 2007 by RIRRC's new director Michael OConnell and detailed in a Sep. 2009 forensic audit report documenting years of waste and mismanagement, flawed multimillion-dollarland deals and construction projects, cronyism, suspected fraud and bid-rigging, bogus workers' compensation claims and overtime scams. Among them was a $19-million transfer station that was redundant and cost 383 percent more than originally estimated. RIRRC is a quasi-governmental entity that manages the vast majority of the state's waste stream...Read More »
South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper), an electric and water utility, signed 20-year power purchase agreements with two waste-to-energy projects that will each produce 1.6 megawatts of power from the anaerobic digestion of food and other renewable wastes. W2E-Organic Power, based in Columbia, SC, has received its state environmental permit and plans to build a 1.6-MW generating station in Columbia that will utilize biogas from food waste, grease and yard waste. Sumter, SC-based BioEnergy Technologies will utilize pre-consumer food waste, grease, food processing waste and wastewater sludge to generate 1.6 MW of renewable electricity at a facility planned for Berkeley County. BioEnergy said it will initiate the permitting process soon and expects to begin producing power by the end of 2012...Read More »
Energy services and technology company Babcock & Wilcox (Charlotte, NC) said that its technical services subsidiary (TSG) won a $417 million contract to operate a government waste-treatment project. The company said the U.S. Energy Department awarded the contract to Idaho Treatment Group LLC, which was formed by Babcock & Wilcox, URS Corp. and EnergySolutions Federal Services Inc. Idaho Treatment Group expects to take over operations at the site from around Aug. 1 through September 2015. Waste from the site is to be shipped to New Mexico. "Successful completion of this project in the next few years is expected to achieve a major environmental clean-up milestone and further demonstrate B&W's capabilities in nuclear materials processing and waste management," said S. Robert Cochran, President of B&W TSG...Read More »
Clean Harbors, Inc. (Norwell, MA), taking advantage of its stellar performance of late, has obtained a new credit facility that increases its borrowing capacity to $250 million while lowering its borrowing costs by 50 basis points. The new five-year revolving credit facility is an increase from a previous $120 million facility that was scheduled to mature in July 2013. It increases to $150 million the amount of borrowings which the Company and its U.S. subsidiaries may obtain and allows the Company's Canadian subsidiaries to obtain up to $100 million of borrowings to facilitate ongoing activities in Canada. The new agreement matures in 2016. "With increased borrowing capacity on more favorable terms, this credit facility greatly enhances our financial flexibility and ability to execute our corporate strategy," said Clean Harbors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan S. McKim. "Coupled with the $250 million of senior secured notes we issued earlier this year, this credit agreement reflects the confidence of the lending community in our prospects for growth through acquisition and internal investments."...Read More »
Waste Management Recycle America, a division of Waste Management (Houston, TX) said that all eight of its electronics waste recycling "eCycling" facilities have earned R2/RIOS certification, meaning that they meet industry adopted standards for responsible reuse and recycling. The Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) and the Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS) programs are administered by ISRI Services Corp., an arm of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. "Retailers and manufacturers need to be assured their discarded electronics are handled safely and responsibly," said Patrick DeRueda, president of WM Recycle America. "By operating R2/RIOS-certified eCycling facilities we are able to provide our customers with environmentally conscientious recycling services."
According to the 2011 Electronics Recycling Industry Survey, the $5 billion per year U.S. electronics recycling industry continues to show tremendous growth and domestic capacity. Last year more than 30,000 full-time workers in the U.S. collected and processed over 3.5 million tons of used and end-of-life electronics equipment, up from 1.8 million tons in 2009...Read More »
In connection with its recent $175 million offering of senior notes, WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX), has extended its $200 million revolving credit agreement by more than two years. The amendment extends the term of the agreement from Jan. 31, 2014, to April 7, 2016 and "also modified certain covenants relating to leverage and debt ratios and the application of proceeds from any future equity offerings or asset sales," the company said...Read More »
Electronics recycler AERC Recycling Solutions, Inc. (Flanders, NJ) announced that its Electronics Processing (Com-Cycle) facilities in Ashland, Virginia, and in Houston, Texas, received certification under the Responsible Recycling (R2) and Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS) programs. AERC now has three R2/RIOS-certified facilities and is in the process of seeking certification for its facilities in Hayward, California, and Allentown, Pennsylvania. "The standards defined in the R2 and RIOS certification programs are a much-needed first step in the electronics recycling industry," said Robert Landmesser, AERC's founder and chairman. The R2 and RIOS programs are administered by ISRI Services Corp., an arm of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries...Read More »
Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) will announce its fiscal fourth quarter and year-end results, for the period which ended April 30, after the close of the market on Wednesday, June 15. The company will host a conference call the following day at 10 am (EDT) to discuss those results and answer investor questions...Read More »