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CA Air Board Reversing Exemption for Waste-To-Energy Under Cap & Trade

Date: August 8, 2011

Source: News Room

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) could reverse a proposed exemption for municipal solid waste-to-energy plants under the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program in response to recent complaints by environmental groups. Ironically, the ARB said they decided to exempt the state's three MSW-to-energy facilities because the increased costs of operating the facilities under cap-and-trade could lead to more waste being deposited in landfills, which would lead to greater GHG emissions. Nevertheless, reversing the exemption will likely cause a backlash from industry already frustrated with an overly burdensome permitting environment in the state. The California debate over how to regulate GHGs from waste-to-energy plants could affect climate change programs in other states, and possibly the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a proposed regional cap-and-trade system that includes California and several Canadian provinces. ARB is currently seeking comment on its proposal to reverse theexemption. Environmentalists claim that incineration of the waste increases overall emissions of GHGs because plastics, for example, do not decompose in landfills and therefore do not release GHGs into the atmosphere. They further argued that exempting MSW-to-energy plants from cap-and-trade will reduce beneficial recycling and composting efforts.

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