April 20, 2010

California's top energy, air quality, & recycling agencies support AB222

Environmentalists must stop letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible.
- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

For three years I have been writing about the frustrated attempts to get legislation passed through Sacramento that would enable the state's municipalities and utilities to permit diversion of municipal solid waste post-recyclables to conversion technologies that would recover energy, create biofuels and green chemicals, and reduce the volume of post-recyclables moving onto landfills by roughly 85%.

The anti-thermochemical stance of the legislation's detractors who preach that gasification "is just a more advanced form of incineration" has been the non-scientific excuse used most often to obstruct passage. In 2007 Assembly Natural Resources Committee (led by chairperson Loni Hancock of Berkeley, CA) derailed AB1090. The latest iteration of the bill (AB222 sponsored by Republican Anthony Adams and Democrat Fiona Ma) flew through the Assembly and received the support of the Utilities Committee of the Senate before it was two-yeared by the Senate's Environmental Quality Committee (which has now-Senator Loni Hancock on it). This in spite of the diverse and overwhelming support it has received throughout California.

AB222 will again be before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, probably before the Senate breaks in late Summer. There is much more reason for the Committee to stop their irrational obstruction of this bill. It now has a letter of support from the primary energy, air quality, and recycling agencies of the current administration. More background...

Update on Assembly Bill 222 (by today's Southern California Conversion Technology Demonstration Project Newsletter)
It is anticipated that Assembly Bill 222 (AB 222) will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee later this Summer, following budget negotiations.

AB 222 is California legislation designed to expedite the introduction of conversion technologies that will produce advanced biofuels and/or green power from carbon-based wastes. With Republican and Democrat co-authors, this legislation has gained bipartisan support amongst the business, environmental, labor, and government sectors. The legislation removes from statute a scientifically inaccurate definition of gasification, establishes a new regulatory category for a "biorefinery" and confirms that the biogenic portion of the municipal waste stream qualifies as a feedstock for renewable electricity under the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Last Year, AB 222 passed the California State Assembly by a vote of 54-13, after having been approved by a unanimous bipartisan vote of 11-0 in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. In July, it was approved in the Senate Utilities, Energy and Communications Committee. The Governor has endorsed the legislation, enabling the California Energy Commission to testify on its behalf, and there is significant support for the bill in the State Senate.

Key agency chairs sign letter of support

A letter of support from the executive branch is circulating among the Assembly and Senate leaders and their staffs. The signatories are no less than:
  1. Jim Boyd, Chair of the California Energy Commission
  2. Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board
  3. Margo Reid Brown, Acting Director of CalRecycle (the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery)
Obstructing this carefully worded and negotiated legislation with this level of support would be a slap in the face of the primary agencies responsible for providing clean energy, clean air, and enlightened recycling processes to all Californians. Their reasons for support are clearly articulated in the letter:
AB222 would allow new non-incineration technologies to be used in the production of renewable biofuels, and electricity from biogenic material diverted from California's landfills. It would achieve this by removing current statutory restrictions that require thermal conversion projects to have zero emissions, a standard required of no other energy generation technology or manufacturing process in the State and one that effectively precludes any municipal solid waste (MSW) conversion technologies from qualifying for California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). ...

New conversion technologies would assist California in developing local fuel sources as part of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) thereby making better use of resources and providing other benefits...

On February 4, 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) allowing the biogenic portion of post-recycled MSW to qualify for the use in the production of advanced biofuels. The renewable fuel provisions of AB 222 would make California consistent with the EPA ruling. ...

This legislation is necessary for CalRecycle and local agencies to deploy the solutions they judge, after extremely careful analysis, the solutions they find appropriate, clean, and most affordable to meet AB32, the RPS, LCFS, and other mandates legislated in California.

Los Angeles County Moves Forward with Southern California Conversion Technology Project (From the CalRecycle Conversion Technology Listserv)
On April 20, 2010, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved recommendations from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works to initiate Phases III and IV of the Southern California Conversion Technology Project. Additionally, Supervisor Yaroslavsky introduced a motion that will expedite the County's efforts to identify locations in Los Angeles County for Phase IV of the project. Please click here to view the Board Agenda item.

After an extensive multi-year evaluation process, which included facility site visits, stakeholder meetings, and economic, environmental, and technical feasibility assessments, the Department of Public Works recommendation included:

1) Approval of Memorandums of Understanding between the County and three different project development teams

a. Arrow Ecology and Engineering & CR&R Incorporated ? proposing a 150 ton per day anaerobic digestion process in the City of Perris, to be located at the MRF/TS owned and operated by CR&R Incorporated.

b. International Environmental Solutions & Burrtec Waste Industries? proposing a 184 tons per day pyrolysis process in Unincorporated Riverside County, to be located at the MRF/TS owned and operated by Burrtec.

c. Entech Renewable Energy Solutions & Rainbow Disposal Company ? proposing a 360 tons per day gasification process in the City of Huntington Beach to be located at the MRF/TS owned and operated by Rainbow Disposal Company.

2) Approval of a four-year consultant contract with Alternative Resources Inc. to provide technical, permitting, and funding procurement assistance to each of the demonstration projects and to assist with the technology evaluation and development of Phase IV commercial projects within LA County.

For more information regarding conversion technologies and to view the County's reports please visit www.SoCalConversion.org

The agenda, which includes the official recommendations from the Department of Public Works, may be accessed by clicking here.

technorati , , , , , , ,

No comments: