The Municipal Waste Management Association (MWMA), the environmental
affiliate of The United States Conference of Mayors, met April
14 in Washington (DC) for their 2005 Legislative and Regulatory
Update. Issues that were discussed included electronics recycling,
clean air, clean diesel, brownfields tax incentives, and illegal
transfer stations. The Washington (DC) Department of Solid
Waste co-hosted the event and the Integrated Waste Services
Association (IWSA) sponsored the reception. Participants in
the meeting were the solid waste directors, environmental
commissioners and public works directors from such cities
as Washington (DC), San Diego, Portland, Detroit, Tacoma,
Lexington (KY), Orlando and West Palm Beach to name a few.
For a copy of the presentations or for more information on
MWMA, please look at the website: usmayors.org/mwma.
By Brett Rosenberg
EPA officials were on hand at the MWMA Legislative and Regulatory
meeting to tie together some of the agency's new clean air
regulations and place them in a framework applicable to municipal
public works operations. Bill Wehrum, general counsel in the
EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, presented an overview of
two new regulations: the Clean Air Interstate Rule, known
as CAIR, and the Clean Air Mercury Rule. Lori Stewart and
Steve Albrink of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air
Quality outlined the National Clean Diesel Campaign, which,
over the next several years, promises to have a pronounced
effect on air quality through reducing particulate emissions
and other emissions from the nation's 11 million diesel engines,
including those in city fleet vehicle like garbage trucks
Wehrum briefly explained some of the intricacies of CAIR,
which "is the biggest thing [EPA] has done since the
1990 Clean Air Act Amendments" to improve air quality.
Once fully implemented, CAIR will regulate sulfur dioxide
and nitrogen oxide emissions, largely from coal-fired power
plants in the eastern United States. The regulation, which
the EPA says will use a market-based cap and trade system
to reduce the precursors of acid rain and ground level ozone
by 70 percent, seeks to alleviate air pollution through reducing
the potential for regional non-attainment with air pollution
standards because of upwind emissions.
The EPA delayed release of the CAIR regulation during early
2005 while the Senate debated the merits of the Bush Administration's
Clear Skies Initiative. Although similar to CAIR, Clear Skies
has not yet received sufficient support to move out of committee.
Wehrum noted that the Bush administration recognizes that
there is an air quality problem that needs a solution and
that Congress should step up to address the problem. "In
the mean time," Wehrum said, "we're going forward
with the regulation," noting the preference for legislation
over regulatory action.
The new Clean Air Mercury Rule, which compels power plants
to reduce mercury emissions from about 48 tons nationwide
today to 15 tons by 2018, seeks to reduce the harmful effect
of consuming mercury-contaminated fish. However, according
to Wehrum, while the new mercury rules will eliminate part
of the problem, much of the contamination in the U.S. comes
from international sources, such as China.
The nationwide mercury rule, like the Clean Air Interstate
Rule, encourages states to implement a market-based cap and
trade system to reduce emissions.
Once both rules are phased in, according to Wehrum, the overall
benefits of reducing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury
will assist cities and states in meeting their air quality
The EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign, as described by
Stewart and Albrink will also help cities and states achieve
better air quality. Stewart and Albrink spoke largely about
EPA programs geared toward reducing the sulfur content in
diesel fuel for on and off-road engines and retrofitting diesel
engines to make them far less polluting. Emissions from diesel
engines are linked to serious public health problems such
as asthma and other harmful respiratory conditions, and contribute
fine particles that form visibility'restricting haze. Diesel
emissions are also linked to ground-level ozone formation,
acid rain and global climate change.
By 2006, ultra low sulfur fuel will be available nationwide;
however, it will take longer for the "legacy fleet,"
that is, the existing fleet of over 11 million diesel vehicles
nationwide, to adapt to the new fuels. Stewart and Albrink
described several programs available to help cities retrofit
fleet vehicles to the new low sulfur fuels, and addressed
alternative fuels, such and compressed natural gas and biodiesel,
that have shown much promise in alleviating emissions problems.
The speakers said that many of these programs have broad stakeholder
support because they have proven cost effective; are available
throughout the country; have helped communities achieve particulate
matter and ozone attainment goals, and have often received
state and federal funding.
For additional information, visit the National Clean Diesel
Campaign Website at www.epa.gov/cleandiesel.
MWMA Discusses Growing Problem
By Aaron E.P. Wiley, USCM Intern
The United States Conference of Mayors environmental affiliate,
The Municipal Management Association, and the Washington (DC)
Department of Solid Waste Management met April 14 to discuss
the legislative and regulatory priorities including Unregulated
Solid Waste Rail Transfer Stations. During the meeting, attendees
were briefed by Susan King, Director of Governmental Affairs
of American Ref-Fuel Corporation.
King discussed a growing trend that has started in the Northeast
involving the placement of solid waste transfer stations next
to railroads in order to minimize the environmental regulations
and permitting requirements that are typically associated
with these types of facilities. King outlined the problem
by making the following points:
- In 1995, Congress enacted the Interstate Commerce Commission
Termination Act (ICCTA). The Act grants jurisdiction over
transportation by rail carriers to the Surface Transportation
- The STB was given exclusive jurisdiction over railroads
and rail transportation inclusive of facilities integral
to transportation and the construction, attainment, operation,
abandonment, or discontinuance of tracks, or even if the
tracks are located, or intended to be located entirely in
- While the ICCTA preempts the New Jersey Department of
Environmental Protection's authority to permit a transfer
facility owned and operated by a rail carrier and used for
transferring shipments of solid waste to or from rail, it
does not preempt the role state and local government agencies
to play in enforcing federal, state, and local environmental
- Currently, there are projects in development or currently
in operation throughout the country where there are solid
waste facilities on a side rail that is protected within
the umbrella of the STB's exclusive jurisdiction. These
facilities are exempt from nearly all'substantive environmental
requirements imposed by state and local government.
- STB does not provide local oversight, which leaves regulatory
holes for rail related operations. Most solid waste facilities
are subject to significant protective state and local environmental
controls. These sites have become subject to very limited
federal controls due to the EPA's deference of regulation
to the states.
King explained that state and local municipalities are required
to protect public health and the environment. They are the
first responders when something goes wrong. States want land
use and planning oversight where solid waste facilities would
not be exempt from abiding by state regulations. These facilities
exist in New York and New Jersey and are pending in Rhode
Island and Massachusetts, where waste haulers are applying
to railroads in highly regulated areas.
Currently, there are four illegal waste transfer stations
with two more stations being formed. The facilities have arrived
without a permit or zoning approvals and are moving solid
waste with little to no oversight. In addition, New England
Transrail, LLC in Wilmington (MA) has been seeking to restore
it tracks, build transfer stations with the potential of receiving
up to 400 trucks a day and operate twenty-four hours a day.
King stated that there is a fear among local officials that
more of these stations might occur, which could result in
a threat to public health. She said that state, county and
local officials have promised to coordinate their efforts
to cease the proliferation of unregulated solid waste transfer
stations along the railroad. Officials are working to move
on several fronts in a coordinated, multi-agency approach.
Groups have been reaching out to state and federal lawmakers
to change the rules associated with this problem.
By Judy Sheahan
Congressman Mike Turner (OH) briefed members of the Municipal
Waste Management Association (MWMA) April 14 regarding his
brownfields tax proposal that would provide $1 billion in
tax incentives to spur private sector investment on brownfields.
Conference President Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic testified
April 5 before Turner's subcommittee on the need for incentives
to encourage private sector investment.
Turner outlined the extent of the brownfields problem which
has been described as a federally created problem due to the
Superfund law that was passed in 1980. As a result of that
law, according to Turner, an environment has been created
that discourages owners to find out if their property is contaminated.
This has promoted owners of such properties to abandon them,
along with general reluctance to sell the property, for fear
of liability and their associated costs. Brownfields are defined
as abandoned or underutilized properties that are not redeveloped
due to the fear of real or perceived environmental contamination.
Turner said that the current Brownfields Law, the Small Business
Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002
provides some protection against liability but does not address
the high redevelopment costs associated with redeveloping
brownfield sites and does not provide enough of an incentive
for voluntary action.
According to Turner, the current Brownfields program has
done a good job at redeveloping what some would describe as
the "low hanging fruit," the sites that are either
not that contaminated or in places that are highly desirable.
However, it is estimated that with the current level of resources
it would take 10,000 years to redevelop the estimated 500,000
to 1 million brownfield sites in the United States.
Turner said that the current EPA program is a step in the
right direction but that additional tools were needed to spur
on more development outside of EPA, particularly private sector
funding. He said that he hopes that his bill, H.R. 4480, which
will soon be introduced, will be the motivation to encourage
private sector investment.
Major components of H.R. 4480 include:
- $1 billion in federal tax credits would be allocated to
the states according to population and administered by state
- Credits would be allocated to brownfield redevelopment
projects where the local government entity includes a census
track with poverty in excess of 20 percent.
- States are to give preference to redevelopment projects
based on the extent of contamination remediated, poverty
at location, jobs created, position of property within central
business district, and the owner's financial commitment
- Tax credits allocated for up to 50 percent of demolition
and remediation costs pursuant to a state approved remediation
- Tax credits are transferable and can be sold to third
parties such as banks - proceeds of the sale non'taxable.
- Remainder of costs deductible/depreciable by property
"This is a bill that is geared towards economic development
and creating jobs," Turner said. "This bill is not
set up to create parks and open spaces."
He also hopes that his bill would be the motivation for owners
of "mothballed" sites — sites that are held
onto by the current owners with no intention of selling or
redeveloping the land — to start cleaning up the property
and eventually sell or redevelop the site themselves. There
is a provision in the bill that allows past contaminators
that contribute no less than 25 percent of remediation costs
receive liability release for 100 percent of the approved
remediation plan demolition and remediation costs. This liability
release, however, does not include unexpected or undisclosed
Turner also clarified that the minimum 25 percent contribution
was simply that, a minimum contribution. "If you and
your state want to negotiate a higher percent of contribution.
That is up to you. We-ve just established the minimum threshold,"
Sarah Lile, the Environmental Commissioner for the city of
Detroit, told the Congressman and meeting participants that
the state of Michigan has a similar program which has been
extremely successful for the city.
Turner is looking for additional cosponsors of H.R. 4480
before it is officially introduced. "This is when I turn
to you and ask for your help," Turner said. "I hope
you will encourage your members of Congress to sign onto this
For more information regarding brownfields, check out the
Conference's website at usmayors.org.
Launey, Clean Cities Program, Department of Energy, Joanna
D. Underwood, President, INFORM Corporation and Richard Parrish,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, lead a discussion for
MWMA and SWAC members about alternative fuels and fuel technologies.
The Clean Cities Program, a partnership between the US Department
of Energy and cities works to “advance the energy, economic,
and environmental security of the US by supporting local decisions
to adopt practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum
consumption in the transport sector,” began Ms. Launey.
Eighty-eight active collations have been formed across the
United States. These collations are responsible for 181 million
gallons of displaced petroleum and the reduction of 32,000
metric tons of emissions every year. The Clean Cities Coalition
works to accelerate the introduction of new fuel and fuel
cell technologies in ten niche markets, including refuse fleets.
Alternative fuels include natural gas, biodiesel blends, and
Ms. Launey touted Southern California as a leader in alternative
fuels, citing the Southern California Diesel Ban Rule, which
mixes both incentives and mandates as a foundation for long-term
change. In Fresno, a $3.3 million CNG fueling station is set
to open in November 2005, and a $600,000 LNG fueling station
for garbage trucks opened in last April. All Fresno Area Express
buses and garbage trucks are expected to be converted to natural
gas by 2010. One hundred percent of the refuse fleet is compliant
with the California Air Resources Board Solid Waste Collection
Vehicle Rule five years ahead of schedule. John Hunt, City
of Fresno, discussed some of the unexpected benefits of the
conversion, including quieter trucks and increased health
benefits for the drivers. Other benefits for alternative fuels
refuse vehicles include lower maintenance costs, lower fuel
costs, a significant reduction in emissions, less noise pollution.
Natural gas trucks are 50-98% quieter than petroleum fueled
vehicles. Utilizing alternative fuels ensures vital refuse
operations will not be impacted if petroleum is not readily
available and positions cities as leaders in the movement
towards energy secure nation.
INFORM is an independent research organization, formed in
1974 to identify and implement environmental progress. ‘Garbage
trucks are among the oldest and least fuel-efficient fleet
vehicles”, began Joanna Underwood. According to Ms.
Underwood, drivers are leading the charge to convert fleets
to natural gas vehicles. Fleets are switching to natural gas
because it is the surest means of compliance with clean air
regulations and addresses urban concerns about asthma and
cancer risks. As cities begin replacing older fleets, they
are examining the feasibility and efficiency of natural gas
vehicles in relation to re-routing and other management strategies.
In 2004, Ms. Underwood, concluded, there was strong movement
towards natural gas, including an 89% growth in two years.
The movement towards natural gas is being lead by California,
Texas and Massachusetts and is the first step on the path
Richard Parrish, of the Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL)
provided an overview of alternative fuels and technologies
for refuse trucks. After reviewing the benefits and challenges
of natural gas, Mr. Parrish discussed the next generation
of natural gas vehicle activity, which focuses on engines
for medium and heavy-duty applications, designed to meet or
beat EPA standards. NREL performed in-service evaluation of
gas natural gas refuel trucks in three communities and concluded
that start up problems could be overcome, the performance
of the NGV was as good or better than diesel, fuel economy
was improving, high maintence costs were going down and the
LNG costs was a component of operations costs.
Biodiesel blends provide fleets with a reduction of greenhouse
gas emissions, increased lubricity, and less PM emission.
Additionally, diesel odor and smoke and does not require infrastructure
modifications. Challenges for biodiesel include slightly higher
Nox emissions, inconsistent fuel quality and high costs. Hydraulic
hybrids are another alternative. Benefits include a higher
fuel economy, reduced vehicle emission, equal or improved
vehicle acceleration, and lower costs than electronic hybrids.
The challenge of hydraulic hybrids is its unproven technology.
Hybrid electric vehicles provide improved fuel efficiency,
reduced emissions and lower operational costs. The challenge
of Hybrid electric technology is cost.
Mr. Parrish concluded that emerging alternative fuel technologies
are targeting both lower emissions and operations costs. Natural
gas and biodiesel are “ ready to go” and other
technologies, like landfill gas and hydraulic hybrid are near
implementation and that hybrid electric and the implementation
fuel cell technologies are further away.
Ms. Launey suggested cities should start small and explore
incentives for contractors who use alternative fuels. Cities
should also identify grant programs and technical assistance
programs to begin the process. Handouts, including a list
of grant programs, can be found on-line at www.usmayors.org/mwma.
Mark Your Calendars for the 2005 Cans For Cash City Recycling
Challenge! September 1-16 2005
Register on line at www.usmayors.org/mwma
and compete against like sized cities for up to $10,000 to
further your cities recycling efforts
- Register beginning June 10th
- Cans For Cash Challenge: September 1-16
- Submit your results by October 17th
- Winners announced: November 15th
Awards Presented, January 2006 at The United States Conference
of Mayors 2006 Winter Meeting
For more information contact Susan Jarvis; 202.861.6760. firstname.lastname@example.org