Editor’s Note: This quarter’s column is written by Bob Watts, the Technical Division Vice Director.
By Bob Watts, Executive Director, Chester County Solid Waste Authority
For those who like to plan ahead , the Landfill Gas Technical Division will be accepting applications for Vice-Director later this year. The results of the election will be announced at the Landfill Gas Symposium next year. In less than a year, you could be writing this column!
The Landfill Gas Symposium will be March 24-27, 2014, in one of my favorite locations – Monterey, California. If some of you are like me and also attend the Landfill Symposium – great news! It also will be in Monterey, at the same place and time! By the time you read this, some of the details should be available.
Most of you know there is a gas boom going on in various places around the country – and not just landfill gas. Here in Pennsylvania, it is natural gas removed from the Marcellus Shale Formation that extends into a few neighboring states and into southern Canada. The method of extracting this long-trapped methane is by hydraulic fracturing, also referred to by the media as fracking.
There is an obvious relationship between natural gas and landfill gas – and that is the law of supply and demand. While the new-found natural gas has been a boon to keeping some energy prices down, it also has depressed the value of landfill gas in many markets. The waste industry in many parts of Pennsylvania has seen an increase in residual waste disposal – drilling muds and other related wastes. Regulators were concerned that these residual waste materials might lead to early landfill gas generation. They also were concerned that landfills could have problems collecting all the gas generated as a result of disposing of these residual wastes.
Being active in SWANA, and the Landfill Gas Technical Division in particular, has allowed me and other SWANA members to be a trusted source of information for the regulators. We were able to inform the regulators that those of us that operate landfills that are accepting these residual wastes have not seen an increase in landfill gas production – just the opposite: a small reduction in landfill gas production from disposing of these inert residual waste streams even though they may have a low percentage of solids.
On the U.S. Federal level, some updates will keep regulators, lawyers and some in the industry busy for a while. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals removed the deferral rule for greenhouse gas emissions. This likely will result in more waste disposal facilities being required to obtain permits under the Clean Air Act. The U.S. EPA also issued new National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) that may affect some boilers burning landfill gas. The EPA also has updated regulations that affect reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE) which are designed to reduce HAP emissions.
On the positive side, the EPA has proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standards. Under the proposed standards, landfill gas would be in the biogas category and receive the most valuable credits.
The Landfill Gas Technical Division continues to evolve. We were the first Technical Division planning to add a Young Professional to our Steering Committee. News from WASTECON: at the Landfill Gas Technical Division Steering Committee Meeting, a motion was approved to start the process of changing the Division name to ”Landfill Gas and Biogas Technical Division.”
Please plan to join us at the 2014 Landfill Gas Symposium to discuss these and other exciting topics that relate to you on a daily basis.
Comments or questions about this column? Contact Bob Watts at email@example.com or 610-273-3771 x 227.
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The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For close to 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.