While Waste Management CEO David Steiner was speaking with the Wall Street Journal about the future of waste, his lieutenant, Carl Rush spoke to Bloomberg News about the future of waste conversion. Rush, who is senior vice president of Waste Management's Organic Growth unit, estimated the value of waste currently being landfilled by the company to be worth more than $40 billion, if reclaimed or harnessed for energy. He said the company landfills about 82 percent of the 112 million tons of waste it collects. "We don't think the future, long term, is going to be continuing to put everything in the landfill," Rush said. "It's going to be recovering more value from this material. The customers will demand it, the struggle for resources will demand it, and quite honestly, economically, it's the thing we should be doing."...Read More »
The plot thickens for the city of Harrisburg, Penn. as it flirts with bankruptcy and fights several lawsuits over $317 million in debt related to its troubled incinerator. Last week David Unkovic, the state-appointed receiver charged with discharging the mess, resigned abruptly after submitting a hand-written letter in which he claimed that "political and ethical crosswinds" left him unable to continue.
At issue is his plan to sell the 40-year-old incinerator and certain city-owned parking structures to pay off the debt held by the Harrisburg Authority for which the city is responsible. Meanwhile, Dauphin County and bond insurer Ambac Assurance Corp. have made payments when the city failed to do so. The county and insurer are suing the city to recoup their payments, restructuring costs, and principal and interest owed to the county and insurer have expanded the burden. Unkovic's efforts were frustrated by efforts by several creditors to have a second receiver appointed to oversee the sale of the incinerator...Read More »
House lawmakers passed a budget resolution that could result in a 30 percent haircut to the EPA which Democrats and environmentalists fear would harm core EPA programs to protect health and slow the pace of Superfund cleanups. The resolution, drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), passed the House March 29 by a vote of 228-191. It would change the terms of the debt ceiling deal reached last year by exempting defense funds from $1.2 trillion in budget "sequestration" cuts over 10 years set to take effect in 2013. Such a move means that lawmakers would have to take the $600 billion in defense cuts and add them to the $600 billion cut already facing discretionary programs, which include EPA's funding.
Budget resolutions act as a blueprint for long term spending by limiting spending among congressional committees and the money they can appropriate to different agencies within their purview. During a March 28 hearing on EPA's fiscal year 2013 budget, Mathy Stanislaus, head of the agency's Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response, said that the president's FY13 budget request for EPA would already cut $37 million from Superfund cleanups and prohibit any new EPA-led construction projects in the next year. "Clearly any further cuts will result in an increase in the backlog," Stanislaus said. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is urging lawmakers to repeal the resolution since it would cut spending "in an irresponsible manner that can endanger the public health protections that we rely on," she said...Read More »
A plan by Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) to sell an unpopular waste-to-energy facility and buy a landfill in Maine stalled when state lawmakers postponed sending a bill to committee that would have authorized the transaction. The company will likely have to wait another year to sell its Maine Energy Recovery Facility (MERC) to the city of Biddeford, Maine for $7.5 million, along with its plan to buy the Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town from the state of Maine. The plan would have allowed the town to close the energy plant and given Casella an alternate destination for its waste. Casella already operates the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill. Officials with the town of Biddeford and Casella both say they will seek other ways to move forward. Casella has been exploring the sale of the facility since at least April 2009...Read More »
Environmental groups are suing the EPA to force the agency to issue the final version of its long-stalled coal combustion residuals (CCRs) disposal rule. Following their earlier threat to do so, Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of 11 other parties in the U.S. District Court of Columbia. They argue that EPA is ignoring a Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) requirement to periodically review and revise its waste rules. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency plans to finalize the rule in late 2012 after completing a risk analysis of coal ash reuse in products. In June 2010 EPA proposed to regulate coal ash either as a RCRA subtitle C hazardous waste subject to strict disposal controls, as desired by the activists, or under RCRA's subtitle D solid waste program, which would delegate the regulation of CCRs to the states...Read More »