MWMA Summer 2005 Newsletter MWMA is the Environmental Affiliate of The U.S. Conference of Mayors.

MWMA Holds 2005 Legislative, Regulatory Update

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.

 

 

Clean Air, Clean Diesel Discussed at MWMA Meeting

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 and buses.

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 attainment obligations.

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.

 

 

Illegal Transfer Stations Appearing on Railroads
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 Board (STB).
  • 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 one state.
  • 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 laws.
  • 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.

 

 

Rep. Turner Briefs MWMA on Brownfields Tax Incentive

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 development agencies.
  • 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 for redevelopment.
  • Tax credits allocated for up to 50 percent of demolition and remediation costs pursuant to a state approved remediation plan.
  • 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 owner.

"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 contamination.

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," Turner said.

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 bill."

For more information regarding brownfields, check out the Conference's website at usmayors.org.

 

 

Greening The Garbage: MWMA Explores Alternative Fuels

Shelley 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 hybrid technology.

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 towards Hydrogen.

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.

 

 

Enter! Recycle! Win!

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. sjarvis@usmayors.org

 

FEATURED EVENT

2005 MWMA Fall Summit
October 19-21, 2005
Portland Oregon
Registration and Agenda on-line at www.usmayors.org/mwma

LEADERSHIP

 

Executive Commitee

President
Susan Keil,
City of Portland, OR

1st Vice President
Peter Spatara,
City of West Palm Beach, FL

2nd Vice President
Vacant

Immediate Past President
Kevin Bennett,
Lexington-Fayette Urban County, KY Government

Past Presidents
Sarah Lile,
City of Detroit

Willie Rhodes,
City of Austin, TX

Karen Larkin,
City of Tacoma, WA

Gary Price,
City of Denver, CO

Rudy Davidson,
Louisville-Jefferson County, KY Government

Tom Henderson,
City of Washington, DC

Trustees
Jonathan Bilmes,
Bristol Resource Recovery, CT

Daniel Cardenas,
City of San Antonio, TX

Mike Carroll,
City of Orlando, FL

Frank Giordano,
Pollution Control Financing Authority, Camden County, NJ

Daphne Harley,
Kern County, CA

Elmer Heap,
City of San Diego, CA

Sean McDonald,
City of Seattle, WA

Al Sanchez,
City of Chicago, IL

Clarena Toleson,
City of Philadelphia, PA

Steve Willis,
City of San Jose, CA