The Environment and Natural Resources Committee of Maine’s legislature voted unanimously in support of an amendment to LD 401, An Act To Preserve State Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling on February 5th.
At that work session, two amendments to LD 401 were introduced, one by Committee Chair Representative Tucker and one from LD 401 Sponsor Representative Tipping.
As the language of the first amendment was being distributed, ENR Chair Representative Tucker made an Ought to Pass as Amended motion in support of the amendment language. This amendment replaced the bill with language developed from meetings between the Department of Environmental Protection and representatives of ReEnergy and Casella.
A second amendment was introduced by Representative Ryan Tipping, the bill sponsor, which included language developed through meetings with community stakeholders to implement the original goals of the bill.
The original version of LD 401 proposed to enact measures to ensure accurate tracking of the origin and type of waste materials disposed of in Maine, to discourage landfilling of recyclable materials, to preserve landfill capacity at state-owned facilities for Maine-generated materials, and to ensure the rights of host communities and abutters of waste disposal facilities.
The amended version of LD 401 adopted by the ENR committee effectively keeps the status quo and fails to address the goals of the original bill, though it would place some minor restrictions on how much waste a processing facility may send to a landfill.
Current law does not have a clear definition of “waste generated within the State,” but includes a provision in Title 28, Section 1310-N that states, “For purposes of this subsection, ‘waste generated within the State’ includes residue and bypass generated by incineration, processing and recycling facilities within the State or waste, whether generated within the State or outside of the State, if it is used for daily cover, frost protection or stability or is generated within 30 miles of the solid waste disposal facililty.”
The amendment removes the Section 1310-N description of Maine-generated waste, and adds a new definition to Title 38, section 1303-C, specifying that waste generated within the State means:
1. Waste initially generated within the State of Maine; and
2. Waste generated by an incineration or recycling facility located within the State, regardless of whether the waste processed by the facility was generated within Maine; and
3. Waste generated by a processing facility located within the State, regardless of whether the waste was initially generated within Maine, if the waste is used for at landfills for daily cover, frost protection, shaping and grading, and other operational or engineering related purposes approved by the DEP; and
4. Waste generated by a processing facility located within the State, regardless of whether the waste was initially generated within Maine, if the waste generated by the facility is only an ancillary results of the processing operations; and
5. Waste residue generated by a processing facility located in the State, regardless of whether the waste processed by the facility was initially generated in Maine, as long as the facility “recycles” at least 50% of the waste materials accepted at the facility through use as boiler fuel, recovery of metals, use in construction, or use in landfills for daily cover, frost protection, shaping and grading, and other operational or engineering related purposes approved by the DEP.
The amendment includes an exception designed for ReEnergy’s Lewiston construction & demolition debris processing facility, reducing from 50% to 15% the amount of material that ReEnergy must “recycle.”
BUT it also includes an escape clause allowing ReEnergy to get a waiver from the DEP if the company can demonstrate an “unreasonable adverse impact” from complying with the recycling requirements, making the bill almost meaningless in terms of reigning in ReEnergy’s abuse of the current system
We no longer support this bill in the present form. But since the legislature is now out of session, the bill has not come up for a vote, nor is it likely to be voted on if the legislature does reconvene; they will be doing only essential bills.
Most of the provisions of the bill are also part of our petition for rule changes which we submitted to the DEP on January 13th. We passed in our petitions to DEP for these rule changes on January 13th. We were required to have 150 signatures; we had over 250. On March 5th the BEP discussed and approved scheduling our petition for a Public Hearing. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19, that hearing has been delayed. As soon as we hear when BEP plans to reschedule the hearing, we will post that date here on our website.