President Obama's decision on Sept. 2 to withdraw EPA's ozone air quality standard appears to be a tacit admission that environmental rules can be economically damaging and may indicate a willingness to delay other discretionary policy measures, including pending chemical risk assessments, water quality guidance and others. Obama said that issuing a new standard now would have created regulatory uncertainty. "Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered." Meanwhile, House Republicans are vowing to continue their efforts to pass wholesale reforms tightening the regulatory review process, as well as to curtail other EPA rules.
White House spokesman Clark Stevens, in a Sept. 7 statement said "While the President has made clear that we must continue to ensure that new regulations are based on common sense, and implemented in ways that do not impede our economic recovery, he has also made clear that he will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water, and safe food. Americans deserve both, and we will continue to take steps that provide those protections, while fostering economic growth."...Read More »
Environmental groups have released a report that says most state rules for coal ash disposal fail to prevent air, land and water contamination, arguing that only strict EPA regulation of it as a hazardous waste can adequately protect the environment. In their report, "State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash," Earthjustice and the Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment examine coal ash disposal rules in 37 states and find that few states require environmental safeguards, such as composite liners for coal ash ponds and landfills, groundwater monitoring or siting rules. "In view of the widespread absence of critical protections in most states, it is absolutely essential" that EPA follow through on its proposal to regulate coal combustion waste as hazardous material under subtitle C of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), the report says. EPA is also floating an alternative option of regulating coal ash under less stringent RCRA subtitle D solid waste rules, the approach industry and states favor.
EPA's final ash rule is unlikely to appear until at least 2012 but Republicans in the House are already preparing to vote on a bill to block such rules, in part because the uncertainty of regulation has begun to impact the beneficial reuse market for coal ash, which is used as filler for concrete and other products. H.R. 2273 would block EPA from regulating coal ash as a "special waste" under subtitle C and instead designate it a solid waste under RCRA subtitle D, with states taking the lead on regulating it. EPA issued the proposed coal ash regulatory options last July in response to the massive December 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill. The proposal generated almost 500,000 public comments...Read More »
A new report targets EPA's pending regulation of coal ash and warns that road building costs would likely rise by $100 billion over 20 years without the beneficial reuse of coal ash. The report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association touts the many benefits of reusing coal ash as a way to enhance cement, gypsum and concrete, its cost savings, and environmental benefit as a "green" building material that utilizes a byproduct which reduces demand for carbon-intensive portland cement, requires less water in the setting process, and would otherwise wind up in a landfill. "The study's findings should be a real eye-opener for members of Congress and other federal policymakers," said Bill Gehrmann, president of Headwaters Resources, Inc., whose group commissioned the report. "Without coal ash, concrete will become more expensive and the environmental footprint of the transportation sector will only increase. There is nothing 'green' or sustainable in such a scenario."...Read More »
Those who follow Louisiana politics will be shocked to learn of continuing political controversy surrounding landfills in an around New Orleans. Most recently, Waste Management is seeking a court order to prevent nearby Jefferson Parish from contracting with IESI, a division of Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd., to expand and operate the parish landfill for at least 10 years, replacing Waste Management, which has operated it for the last 25 years.
In a court filing for a temporary restraining order, Waste Management accused the Parish Council of making an "arbitrary and capricious" decision last month to begin contract negotiations with IESI, even though Waste Management's proposal received a higher score from a parish evaluation committee. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle denied the request, saying it is premature but ordered the parish to notify Waste Management at least seven days before voting on the contract...Read More »
The US EPA said the former owner of the country's largest asbestos abatement training school was sentenced to 87 months in prison, after having fled the US following her conviction in November 2008. US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced Albania Deleon, 41, formerly of Andover, Mass. to prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $1.2 million in restitution to the IRS and $369,015 to an insurance company. In a scam that was more popular in the 1980s, Deleon was convicted of selling bogus training certificates to thousands of illegal aliens, who had not taken the mandatory training courses, and placing them as certified asbestos abatement workers in cleanup projects throughout Massachusetts and New England. Deleon covered up her scam by having the applicants sign answer sheets to already completed and graded exams. Deleon is the fifth environmental criminal captured since the EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008...Read More »
Waste Management (Houston, TX) said it plans to convert its Columbus, Ohio area fleet to compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles. The company will construct a new CNG fueling facility in Canal Winchester to support an expected fleet of 55 CNG-powered vehicles. "This new fueling facility will give us the direct capability to fuel a CNG fleet in the Columbus area, and with the CNG fleet, we'll lower our fleet emissions, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This demonstrates our commitment to being a positive environmental contributor to the communities we serve," said Frank Fello, Senior District Manager for Waste Management of Ohio. Waste Management has about 1,000 CNG and liquefied natural gas-powered vehicles operating in North America and says that 80 percent of new collection vehicle purchases will be powered by natural gas...Read More »
Clean Harbors (Norwell, MA) has appointed David T. Musselman as general counsel. He brings with him 25 years experience in mergers and acquisitions, particularly in the energy industry. His appointment clearly signals the company's increasing emphasis on energy services and on growing through acquisitions. Prior to joining Clean Harbors, Musselman was Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of International Power America, Inc. and before that he was with American Electric Power Company, Inc., Cinergy Corp. (now Duke Energy Corporation)...Read More »
Babcock & Wilcox Company (Charlotte, NC) has been awarded a contract worth more than $186 million to engineer and construct a 75-megawatt biomass power plant for Berlin Station, LLC in Berlin, N.H. B&W's subsidiary Delta Power Services, LLC won a separate $19 million six-year contract to operate the plant which is at the site of an idled Fraser Paper Mill.
Berlin Station, LLC was purchased by Cate Street Capital for $272.5 million from the project's developer Laidlaw Energy. The project initially encountered a number of barriers, including local opposition and petitions for intervention in its power purchase agreement (PPA) process. Earlier this year, a reorganization of the years-long project prompted a change of the name from Laidlaw Berlin BioPower LLC to Berlin Station. Cate Street won endorsement for the project from New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch who urged the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to accept the PPAs agreed upon by Public Service New Hampshire (PSNH) and five of the six independent biomass power plants...Read More »
A Salt Lake City company is converting municipal solid waste into a building material that can be used as railroad ties, fence posts, pylons and lumber-like planks. The company, Better World Materials, grinds the heterogeneous residual waste from recycling facilities and feeds the material through a complex system of hoppers, heaters and augers to produce a wood-like substance that, although uniformly gray on the outside, consists of black melted plastic and brown flecks of paper on the inside. Its pilot plant converts about 20 tons of waste per day into artificial railroad ties. Better World is negotiating with an international company, currently under confidential agreement, to ultimately build commercial scale plants, capable of processing up to 2,000 tons per day, in 15 states...Read More »
Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) said it will announce third quarter financial results before the opening of the market on Thursday, October 27 and host a conference call later that morning at 10 a.m. EDT to discuss those results with investors...Read More »