The 2015 L
egislative Season

Local control - that's the theme of several bills under consideration by state legislatures.

Most important to NEBRA, in New York, opposition has hardened regarding land application of biosolids from renewable energy facilities (anaerobic digesters) in Wheatfield and West Seneca.  Several towns have placed local moratoria (e.g. Lewiston) or bans on biosolids use.  Such local laws contradict state preëmption, and quasar energy group is challenging the Wheatfield, NY ban in court.  (The Town of Marilla sued quasar, a local farmer, and the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) last year; the ruling is due soon). 

Now, in support of the towns' efforts, town officials and area members of the NY State Assembly are pushing A06250 (giving the town of Marilla local control) and some other bills negative to biosolids recycling (Buffalo News, Buffalo News, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Frontier Publications).  While passage may not appear likely, NEBRA members and the NEBRA Reg/Leg Committee are concerned, as are state agencies that have encouraged resource recovery from biosolids (e.g. NY DEC, which provides abundant information on the quasar facilities).  The NY State Farm Bureau will fight the anti-biosolids legislation; it included the following statement in its 2015 policy priorities:

"We support the education of both farmers and the public on the benefits of using biosolids as a source of fertilizer, and using information provided [by] the Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Environmental Conservation. These agencies are the appropriate regulators for the use of this product and municipal prohibitions restricting the use of biosolids should not be allowed."

New York is not alone.  In North Carolina, House Bill 61 would "give more local control to county governments when outside entities request to spread biosolids on farm fields, according to a Salisbury Post article. The bill, which has limited support, includes a strange potential requirement to incinerate solids prior to their application to land.

Other bills:  NEBRA is also watching a bill in the Maine Legislature, LD 394 (HP 260), which would arbitrarily reduce the odor thresholds in the new solid waste odor regulations by 50%.   Another bill, LD 85, would eliminate sale of products containing plastic microbeads; this bill cleared committe unanimously and is headed to the full chamber (Sun Journal article, Bangor Daily News article). Vermont's house has already appoved a similar bill this session (VT Digger article).  

NEBRA members: a spreadsheet of current legislative & regulatory issues being tracked by your Reg/Leg Committee and other working documents are available on the "For Members Only" webpage of the new www.nebiosolids.org or from the NEBRA office.