BioCycle December 2011, Vol. 52, No. 12, p. 6
State Permitting For Codigestion
Many states have air, solid waste and water permitting requirements for on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) systems that process organic wastes in addition to manure. The U.S. EPA’s AgSTAR program recently posted a summary of the air, solid waste and water permitting requirements as of July 2011 for on-farm codigestion systems (www.epa.gov/agstar/tools/permitting). The resource tool also reviews pertinent federal regulations, e.g., for air and water quality. States included in the summary are California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. The summary table includes air, water and solid waste permits by state, as well as the responsible agency for each permit category. Live links to those state agencies are in the table.
County Considers Mandatory Recycling
Alameda County, California, located in the San Francisco Bay area, already boasts a 69 percent diversion rate among its 1.5 million residents and area businesses. The local waste management authority thinks it can do better. To help reach 90 percent diversion by 2020, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is calling for mandatory recycling, and eventually mandatory composting, with penalties for noncompliance up to $1,000. According to published reports, these mandatory initiatives could keep an additional 700,000 tons of compostable and recyclable material from going to local landfills annually.
The proposed plan would begin with mandatory recycling of cardboard, food and beverage containers, paper and other commonly recyclable materials and would expand to include mandatory composting in 2014. Some cities within the county, including Livermore, worry such a mandate would mean more trucks on the roadways and would require more routes. Others reserved about the proposal, including the California Refuse Recycling Council, said mandatory composting could overburden local compost operators due to emissions from the additional composting (in this regard the Council has suggested anaerobic digestion as a pretreatment and to capture more energy from the organics).
Although a draft environmental impact report (EIR) released in September spelling out details of the proposal did not include locating a composting facility in Alameda County, the waste management authority said it would support such an initiative. In the interim, it would continue to transport compostables to five sites outside the county.
2011 Conservation Innovation Grants
Winning proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) include projects that involve composting, anaerobic digestion and investment in ecosystem services. Through CIG, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches in 40 states that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues.
Composting studies funded include: University of Kentucky Research Foundation ($132,941) to evaluate a compost bedded pack barn housing system as a loose housing and manure storage method for small dairy herds. Demonstration will emphasize management strategies (building design, stocking rate, moisture, temperature, bedding material type and tillage methods) for successful performance; Cornell University ($203,723) to demonstrate and validate use of vermicompost-based fertilizers and substrates in greenhouse production as an organic nutrient source. Project will work with three commercial vegetable, herb and ornamental transplant producers to determine if vermicompost-based fertility programs are effective at reducing nutrient runoff and determining factors necessary for success with vermicompost; University of Idaho ($31,249) to demonstrate and evaluate vacuum/ scraper dairy manure collection, proper composting and land application via injection in southern Idaho for mitigating odors and managing nutrients.
Anaerobic digestion grants include $1,000,000 to Penn State to evaluate use of a “stackable material anaerobic digester” for combined heat and power generation, manure odor reduction and food waste energy recovery. Project will collect information on permitting requirements, construction cost, operational aspects of a dry digester including labor, equipment and repairs, provide operating experience and evaluate product before and after digestion for soil amendment value; Quasar energy group ($1,000,000) in Ohio to process livestock waste and divert nutrients from the watershed using quasar’s ADPlusLLX technology. Project to evaluate technology’s environmental effectiveness, utility, affordability and usability.
A grant ($372,478) given to Sustainable Conservation will be used to develop a pilot program to measure environmental benefits in California’s Mokelumne Watershed. The project will develop uniform standards and payment mechanisms that allow private utilities, government agencies, communities and nonprofits to pay landowners and managers to enhance and manage their land to benefit the watershed. More information on the Conservation Innovation Grant program is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov.
Global Co2 Emissions Rise
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement production grew 5.9 percent in 2010, surpassing 9 Pg C (billion tons carbon) for the first time, and more than offset the 1.4 percent decrease in 2009, reports the Global Carbon Project (www.globalcarbonproject.org). “The impact of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis on emissions has been short-lived owing to strong emissions growth in emerging economies, a return to emissions growth in developed economies, and an increase in the fossil-fuel intensity of the world economy,” says the organization’s recently released report. Combustion of coal represented more than half of the growth in emissions. “This is the highest total annual growth recorded, and the highest annual growth rate since 2003 (and previously 1979).” The 2010 growth puts global CO2 emissions “back on the high-growth trajectory that persisted before the global financial crisis.”
Notes the report’s lead author, Dr. Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway: “Many saw the global financial crisis as an opportunity to move the global economy away from persistent and high emissions growth, but the return to emissions growth in 2010 suggests the opportunity was not exploited.” As a result of rising fossil fuel emissions, cement production and deforestation, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 rose to 389.6 parts per million at the end of 2010, the highest level recorded in at least the last 800,000 years.
Recology Buys Seattle’s Cleanscapes
CleanScapes. a Pacific Northwest solid waste disposal provider, has been purchased by San Francisco-based waste hauler Recology. The deal, worth at least $66 million, was approved by the Federal Trade Commission and became official November 1. A 280 employee company, CleanScapes will remain incorporated in Washington state under its own name. The Puget Sound Business Journal rated CleanScapes the state’s Fastest-Growing Private Company in 2010, with recorded revenues at nearly $47.3 million.
Recology is one of the 10 largest employee-owned companies in the United States. In addition to its collection, transfer station and recycling enterprises in San Francisco, Recology also operates a materials recovery facility in Portland, Oregon, and recently purchased and is upgrading a commercial composting facility there as well. This transaction is our first entry into the Washington market, and the combination of Recology’s capabilities with CleanScapes’ talents lead us to expect further success in that region,’ says Recology CEO Mike Sangiacomo.
“1% For Green” In Portland, Oregon
The City of Portland, Oregon’s 1% For Green fund supports construction of green street facilities in the city that manage, enhance livability and provide other environmental benefits. One percent of the construction budget of projects in the public right-of-way that are not subject to the requirements of its Stormwater Management Manual are collected for the fund. Green street swales, curb extensions, planters, vegetated infiltration basins, porous paving or other facility types defined by Portland’s Sustainable Stormwater Management Program are eligible. The 1% for Green funds can be used for design, construction and materials.
Portland also offers an EcoRoof incentive to property owners and developers to add more green roofs. The incentive program is part of Portland’s Grey to Green initiative to increase sustainable storm water management practices, control nonnative, invasive plants, and protect sensitive natural areas. It funds up to $5/ sq.ft. of an ecoroof project. Installation costs for ecoroofs in Portland range from $5 to $20/sq.ft. More details on both incentive programs are at www. portlandonline.com/bes. In addition, BioCycle’s 2012 West Coast Conference, April 16-19 in Portland, features a day-long preconference workshop on Green Infrastructure, focusing on compost-based best management practices. More details about the April 16, 2012 workshop are available at www.biocyclewestcoast.com.
LEED Gold Organics Processing Facility
Waste Management of Alameda County (WMAC) recently unveiled its $11 million, state-of-the-art LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold Organics Processing and Transfer Facility at the Davis Street Resource Recovery Complex in San Leandro, California, just south of Oakland. The building’s distinguishing features include daylighting via translucent panels and solar tubes, mechanically stabilized embankment walls built with 100 percent recycled aggregate, a state-of-the-art biofilter to eliminate odors and high-speed rollup doors to further contain odor and prevent bird entry.
Forty percent of construction materials were sourced locally, 20 percent from recycled sources and 95 percent of construction waste was recycled. The 34,967 square foot building includes 1,127 square feet of office space. The balance is dedicated to the processing and transfer of 150,000 tons/year of yard trimmings and food scraps that are composted at Waste Management’s Redwood Landfill and Recycling Center in Novato, California.
A prototype natural gas collection vehicle, currently being tested in the city of Oakland, was on hand to inaugurate the building. Powered with biofuel made from landfill gas at the Altamont Landfill in Livermore, the truck drove into the new facility following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
USDA Supports Local Food With $9.2 Million In Grants
Nearly 150 farm-to-consumer marketing projects received funding this fall under the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), marking a $9.2 million investment to support direct marketing and to increase consumer access to healthy food, much of it in food deserts (areas identified as having limited access to affordable and nutritious food) and other low-income areas. This year’s awards – 149 in total, distributed across 42 states and the District of Columbia – showed a rise in urban projects and increased diversity in the types funded.
Examples include $75,845 to Common Wealth, Inc., in Youngstown, Ohio, to establish two year-round community farmers markets and to implement a marketing, aggregation and distribution system for a local food cooperative to efficiently expand sales to schools, hospitals and retail sites such as gas stations and corner stores. “Youngstown’s designation by the Brookings Institute as having the highest core poverty rate in the nation highlights the challenge to area farmers to market food to thousands of people with very little money,” says Greg Bowman, executive director of Goodness Grows of North Lima, Ohio.
“Through programs like FMPP, we believe that USDA’s contributions to direct farm-to-consumer marketing are providing alternative economic opportunities for our nation’s agricultural producers,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Earlier this year, we reported that more than 1,000 new farmers markets have been recorded across the United States, totaling 7,175 markets.” In this year’s FMPP grant round, the number of urban projects grew to nearly half of the portfolio.
Coal: A Love Story
For 10 weeks, 11 young multimedia reporters, including 10 postgraduate or current graduate students from the University of North Carolina (UNC) and one from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, explored the societal and environmental implications behind coal, the source of most of the electricity generated in the United States (45 percent) and worldwide (41 percent). Poignant interviews, stirring images, insightful narratives and facts and figures presented in a variety of creative ways engage the viewer and weave a complex story with no easy outcomes. “Coal is definitely a double-edge sword,” one narrator says. “It has been around since the 19th century because it’s cheap and abundant, it’s easy to get to, and it’s easy to get to a lot of it at once. The other edge is that it has a lot of negative health impacts and negative environmental impacts.”
The multimedia journey travels from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, which, together with Appalachia, is where most U.S. coal is mined, to Chicago, where a group of Latino youths are protesting the sullying of their neighborhood by a coal-fired power plant. “A coal plant around 43,000 people is not such a good idea if you don’t want 43,000 people sick,” one young organizer laments. In Appalachia, one coal miner’s spouse declares of her husband: “This is how he feeds his family, how he pays his bills … You’re messing with somebody’s livelihood when you come in here.”
The interactive film, a News21 project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has multiple entry points and can also be viewed in its entirety at www.poweringanation.org.
December 19, 2011 | General
BioCycle December 2011, Vol. 52, No. 12, p. 6