Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 30-Jul. 6, 2011


House Introduces Bill to Delay EPA Boiler Air Rules

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced a bill (H.R. 2250) to force the EPA to delay its contested boiler and incinerator rules by at least 15 months and require the rules to impose the "least burdensome" controls that can be met by the units. Four Republicans and four Democrats introduced the measure which would give EPA at least 15 additional months to re-propose and finalize the boiler and incinerator rules and push back at least 5 years compliance dates for the standards. EPA lost a legal bid to extend a February court-ordered deadline for issuing a package of air rules that included a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics standard for boilers, an emissions rule for commercial and industrial solid waste (CISWI) incinerators, a waste definition rule that determines which air rules units are subject to, and a sewage sludge incinerator air rule...Read More »



Industry and Activists Challenge EPA Definition of Waste Rule

EPA's recent rule defining materials as either solid waste or fuel, which determines which pollution control rules apply to facilities that use them, is being challenged by both industry and environmentalists. The Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) waste definition rule is part of a broad package of highly criticized EPA rules including a boiler maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule, an emissions rule for commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators (CISWI) and a sewage sludge incinerator rule. Industry, environmentalists, localities and others have filed multiple suits over each of the rules in the package.

The Portland Cement Association (PCA), which already has a suit pending over the CISWI rule, is expected to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the RCRA waste definition rule. In a June 16 petition with EPA seeking reconsideration of the RCRA waste definition rule, PCA reiterates its concerns that the regulation could subject some of its members that burn tires to both the cement MACT and the CISWI rule. EPA defined whole tires that come from landfills as waste unless they are fully processed, while whole tires that come through recycling programs will be considered fuel without the need for shredding. PCA argues the definition in the final rule for facilities that burn tires "imposes barriers" to recycling used tires "in a manner that is environmentally counterproductive and legally unnecessary." According to PCA, kilns that use old tires and other solid wastes as fuel "are not 'incinerating' these materials . .. [rather] these kilns are manufacturing facilities." PCA also claims the solid waste definition rule is "even more stringent than EPA's [RCRA] subtitle C regulations for hazardous materials."...Read More »



California Reports Slightly Lower Waste Volumes in 2010

California reported a slightly lower volume of waste disposal in 2010 than in the previous year, according to the latest data published by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The agency said that the modest drop from 31.1 million tons in 2009 to 30.4 million tons in 2010 could be explained by a small decrease in the population since per capita disposal rates remained unchanged at 4.5 pounds per person per day. "Economic factors coupled with effective recycling programs contributed to the reduced amount of trash entering landfills in 2010," CalRecycle Acting Director Mark Leary said. According to the report, the commercial sector generates nearly 70 percent of all waste accepted by California landfills, with 29 percent of that amount from construction and demolition materials. Although the number of residential construction permits increased in 2010 from 2009, new construction remained 73 percent below the historical average...Read More »



City of Los Angeles Planning New Waste-to-Energy Plant

The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works has voted unanimously to authorize the Bureau of Sanitation to commence contract negotiations with energy plant developer, Green Conversion Systems (GCS) to build and operate a state-of-the-art, commercial scale waste-to-energy facility. GCS, based in Rye, NY, is the sole licensee in the U.S. for a European developed technology called the Advanced Thermal Recycling system (ATR). It proposes to build a plant using this technology that will process nearly 1,100 tons per day of post-recycled municipal waste. GCS claims that it can convert 99% of the post-recycled waste into electricity and marketable by-products. The city hopes that the project will further its 'RENEW LA' initiative, which seeks to find a sustainable alternative to landfilling and move it closer to its ultimate goal of 'zero waste.'...Read More »



Congress Proposes Bill to Prohibit E-Waste Exports

New legislation introduced last week in Congress would prohibit the export of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) to developing countries where in many cases these items are recycled in such a fashion that poses a significant threat to human health and the environment. The Responsible Electronic Recycling Act, introduced in the House by reps. Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), would create a new category of restricted e-waste that cannot be exported to India, China, Nigeria and other nations. In some cases, workers burn electronics in open pits as way to separate materials, children pick through hazardous materials, and hazardous materials are dumped next to rivers where they contaminate drinking water and ecological systems...Read More »



Supreme Court Rejects Common-Law GHG Lawsuit, Reaffirms EPA's Authority

The US Supreme Court ruled that regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) is the province of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as dictated by the Clean Air Act (CAA). The court did so by unanimously rejecting, with Justice Sonia Sotamayor recusing herself, a lawsuit in which several states and other parties were seeking to use public nuisance litigation to force electric utilities to reduce their emissions. In an opinion written by Justice Ruth Ginsburg, the court said that the Clean Air Act (CAA) supersedes common law, overturning a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (on which Justice Sotamayor sat at the time) holding that federal common law provides the plaintiffs with an avenue to seek the implementation of GHG emission controls on coal-fired power plants. The plaintiffs comprised eight states, New York City, and three non-profit land trusts, which had filed their lawsuits against five operators of electric power plants that, according to the plaintiffs, are the largest emitters of GHGs in the United States. CAA "provides a means to seek limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from domestic power plants—the same relief the plaintiffs seek by invoking federal common law," Justice Ginsburg wrote. "There is no room for a parallel track." In issuing the ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed its decision in 2007, when in Massachusetts v. EPA it first upheld the agency's authority to regulate GHG emissions under CAA...Read More »



EPA Working on Rule to Expand Toxics Reporting to More Industries

The US EPA is crafting a proposed rule to expand the number of industries required to report chemical releases to the agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), including municipal waste incinerators. The new proposal will "add or expand" coverage for six sectors: iron ore mining, phosphate mining, municipal waste incineration, industrial dry cleaning, petroleum bulk storage and steam-only production from fossil fuels. EPA last expanded the list in 1997, according to an abstract in the Action Initiation List. That rule imposed TRI reporting requirements on several sectors: metal mining, coal mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste treatment, wholesale chemicals and allied products, wholesale petroleum bulk terminals and solvent recovery services. According to the Action Initiation List, EPA is crafting the expansion "[i]n support of the goal to provide comprehensive toxic chemical release and other waste management information to communities." EPA last expandedthe list in 1997 to impose TRI reporting requirements on several sectors: metal mining, coal mining, electric utilities, commercial hazardous waste treatment, wholesale chemicals and allied products, wholesale petroleum bulk terminals and solvent recovery services...Read More »



Synagro Expands into Shale Waste with Purchase of Drilling Solutions, LLC

Synagro Technologies, Inc. (Houston, TX), known mainly for its organic waste treatment solutions, has entered the oil and gas waste management business with its recent purchase of Drilling Solutions, LLC. Drilling Solutions, based in Lafayette, LA, is a solids control and waste management firm that services companies working in the Eagle Ford, Bakken, Barnett and Haynesville shale regions. Increased federal regulation has spiked record growth in solids control and waste management amongst the shale plays in the U.S. Synagro says that the acquisition will leverage its dewatering expertise and national reach and that its centrifuge repair business will improve efficiencies of both businesses. The new entity will be called Synagro Drilling Solutions...Read More »



Daniels Sharpsmart Buys Bronx Facility from Stericycle

Daniels Sharpsmart, Inc. (Bronx, NY), said that its acquisition of a medical waste disposal facility in Bronx, NY from Stericycle has made it the second largest medical waste disposal company in North America. Daniels said the Bronx facility is its fourteenth facility in the US and greatly expands its east coast capabilities. Earlier this year, Stericyle agreed to divest the Bronx facility to appease US Justice Department concerns following its merger with Healthcare Waste Solutions. Terms of the Bronx facility deal were not disclosed. "We're evolving and expanding our services to meet the demands of the $2 billion- plus U.S. medical waste disposal market," said David Skinner, vice president of Daniels Sharpsmart. "The New York facility alone has the potential to serve the Northeast region, which provides more than 150,000 hospital beds. Daniels Sharpsmart also has developed the transportation and treatment infrastructure to provide efficient, cost effective service to customersin this region."...Read More »



Greenstar and Vadxx Partner to Convert Recycled Plastics into Oil

Greenstar Recycling (Houston, TX) is forming a joint venture with Vadxx Energy, LLC (Cleveland, OH) to convert recovered plastic into synthetic crude oil. Vadix employs a proprietary thermal depolymerization process to convert petroleum-based plastics into crude oil and natural gas. "Vadxx will help us recover plastics from the material stream and repurpose them as feedstock for the production of oil," said Matt Delnick, Greenstar CEO. "This JV will help us better serve our municipal customers by providing a more consistent market value for their plastics that are otherwise largely unmarketable. It will increase recovery rates by pulling more plastics out of landfills." Greenstar and Vadxx expect that the JV will begin producing crude oil in mid-2012 with the target location for the project in Ohio...Read More »



Report Finds 33 Coal Ash Contaminated Dump Sites in 19 States Are Illegal as "Open Dumps"

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) claims that 33 coal ash dump sites in 19 states are contaminating groundwater with arsenic, lead and other toxins. According to EIP, these sites may be violating a federal ban on open dumping. EIP found levels of groundwater contamination high enough to trigger the "open dumping" provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). "EPA put rules in place in 1979 that should have forced closure or cleanup at contaminated sites long ago," said EIP Director Eric Schaeffer. "Because EPA was prohibited by law from cracking down on open dumping violations, they have been largely ignored by industry, so the pollution continues to this day, and in some cases has gotten worse." The report also found that groundwater contamination from coal ash is a long-lasting problem as evidenced by one landfill that remains contaminated even though it stopped receiving coal ash in 1977...Read More »



EPA Plans to Expand Biofuel Standard

The US EPA is proposing to increase the "percentage standards" for biofuels next year while also increasing the allowable amount of organic-based biofuel within blended products, such as biodiesel. The agency proposes to mandate the blending of 15.2 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the U.S. fuel supply, while also increasing the proposed mandate for advanced biofuels by 48%, to 2 billion gallons, as part of the agency's Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2)...Read More »



Waste Connections to Announce Second Quarter Results on July 19

Waste Connections, Inc. (Folsom, CA) plans to report second quarter financial results after the close of the market on July 19. The company will host a conference call the following day at 8:30 am (EDT) to discuss the results and answer investor questions...Read More »



Covanta to Report Second Quarter on July 20

Covanta Holding Corp. (Morristown, NJ) plans to announce second quarter results on Wednesday, July 20 and to host a conference call the following day at 8:30 a.m. to discuss those results with investors...Read More »


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