Weekly News Bulletin: Jul. 14-20, 2011


EPA to Toughen Definition of Solid Waste Rule

EPA says it plans to toughen its definition of solid waste (DSW) rule by removing certain regulatory exemptions while adding requirements of facilities that recycle wastes. EPA's July 6 proposal would amend a 2008 rule which broadened the definition of "solid waste" while narrowing which materials are considered "hazardous" and subject to strict waste handling and disposal requirements. The original measure was meant to promote recycling of materials otherwise considered hazardous. But environmentalists sued the agency, saying that it was too lenient and would lead to dangerous "sham" recycling. On a July 6 conference call, EPA waste chief Mathy Stanislaus said that the agency had identified regulatory "gaps" and that a new environmental justice review revealed that low-income and minority populations could be disproportionately affected by the regulation. EPA now plans a series of public meetings on the rule, accepting public comment for 60 days...Read More »



Waste Industry Expected to Improve Despite Slower Economic Growth

Rating agency Standard & Poor's remains optimistic about the waste management industry despite signs of slower economic growth. It is their opinion that both collection and landfill volume will gradually recover, while pricing will continue to drive top-line growth. Companies will use their strong cash flows to repurchase shares, raise dividends, reduce debt and make strategic acquisitions. Consequently, they will divest underperforming assets and acquire accretive niche businesses, while seeking to enhance customer services to maintain a high retention rate. And while some companies have reported less volume of higher profit new business relative to business lost, resulting in a negative "churn" rate, they believe it to be more important to maintain their pricing strategy at the risk of sacrificing some market share. Construction & demolition (C&D) and commercial volume are expected to remain weak in the near term but gradually recover, while residential and some specialwaste industrial volume show more favorable trends. The economic recovery will stabilize commodity recycling prices while hedges and surcharges will continue to offset higher fuel and energy costs. Similarly, haulers will look to reduce other costs through improved vehicle maintenance, safety and insurance programs...Read More »



Chesapeake Energy Invests $305 Million in Clean Energy and Sundrop Fuels

Natural gas developer Chesapeake Energy (Oklahoma City, OK) announced plans to invest $305 million in two clean energy companies -- one that builds liquefied natural gas fueling stations at truck stops -- and another that is developing a refinery to produce fuel from farm crops. Chesapeake said the two deals are part of a $1 billion venture capital fund it is creating to invest in alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel. Chesapeake said it will invest $150 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (Seal Beach, CA) to help pay for about 150 fueling stations, including many at Pilot-Flying J Travel Centers. Clean Energy was co-founded by Texas oilman and billionaire T. Boone Pickens as Pickens Fuel Corp in 1997 and reincorporated as Clean Energy four years later. It owns, operates or supplies about 224 natural gas fueling stations. In a separate deal, Chesapeake said it paid $155 million for a 50 percent stake in Sundrop Fuels Inc. (Louisville, CO), which plans to begin building a pilot plant to maketransportation fuel from plant fiber and agricultural waste. Sundrop says it has developed technology to speed production of fuel from fiber and that could lead to large-scale production of biofuels in five years...Read More »



EPA Notice Seeking Public Comment on Coal Ash Data Sent to White House

The EPA has sent for White House review a long-awaited notice seeking comment on new data related to agency's controversial proposal for regulating coal combustion residue (CCR) from power plants. The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) on July 4 received the notice of data availability (NODA), which EPA waste chief Mathy Stanislaus first announced to a House Energy & Commerce Committee panel in April. EPA originally released a NODA on CCRs in 2007 at the start of the rulemaking process, so advocates are hopeful that this indicates the process is moving forward. In April, an agency spokesman said EPA may consider using data in the NODA "for the risk analysis, or for the regulatory impact analysis, for the CCR final rule."

EPA's proposal, issued last July, has drawn strong opposition from industry groups who charge that the option for regulating CCR as a "special waste" subject to regulation under strict subtitle C requirements of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) -- which is usually reserved for regulating "hazardous" waste -- would impose a "stigma" on CCRs and lead to a reduction in the beneficial reuse of the material in cement, gypsum and other products. Their opposition prompted significant delays in the rulemaking process...Read More »



EPA Moves to Control E-Waste As Congress Seeks Export Ban

The EPA is looking at expanding its regulations of discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) as a way to enhance enforcement of its export restrictions at a time when lawmakers in Congress are reintroducing legislation that would ban the export of CRTs and other electronic wastes (e-waste). For its part, industry, represented in part by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), opposes the legislative effort which they see as limiting recyclers' options and hurting markets for recovered materials.

EPA's action would obviate the need for the legislative effort. It would also address concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2008 report that criticized the existing CRT rule for doing little discourage exports of potentially harmful electronics and faulted the agency for lax enforcement. EPA, according to its latest Action Initiation List (AIL) released June 27, said it is working to strengthen its 2006 Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) rule that restricts exports of the discarded CRTs and considering "including additional items to the notification required for CRTs exported for reuse" and is also planning to clarify the definition of "exporter" to address potential liability for brokers and other intermediaries dealing with CRT exports...Read More »



Ze-gen Suspends $15 Million Attleboro Waste-to-Energy Project

Waste-to-energy company Ze-gen (Boston, MA) announced that it is suspending its $15 million clean energy project planned for Attleboro, MA owing to falling natural gas prices and a "more prolonged local regulatory review process than anticipated." Chief Operating Officer David Robertson said he was suspending the Attleboro Clean Energy Project in favor of developing projects in locations with stronger energy markets and where the community is more receptive to alternative energy technology. "As a young technology company, our most precious resource is the time and creative attention of our small professional team. If the Attleboro Clean Energy Project was already up and running, we could withstand the economic drop in natural gas prices," he said. In the meantime, Ze-gen will continue to operate its New Bedford research and development site. Ze-gen's technology employs a liquid metal gasifier to convert solid wastes into synthesis gas (syngas) and a residual inert slag material. The syngas is burned to create clean energy...Read More »



Progressive Waste Solutions to Report Second Quarter Results on July 26

Progressive Waste Solutions (Toronto, ON) plans to report its second quarter financial results after the close of the markets on Tuesday, July 26. The Company plans to host a conference call the following day at 8:30 am (EDT)...Read More »



WCA Waste Corp. to Report Second Quarter Results on August 3

WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX) will report second quarter financial results on Wednesday, August 3 after the close of the market and host a conference call the following day at 8:30 am (EDT)...Read More »


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