2016 Regional Regulatory & Legislative Round-up
- New York State is revising its Solid Waste regulations, and biosolids and residuals are affected. The deadline for comments is July 15th (later extended to September 13th). The proposed regulations divide the various types of Material Recovery Facilities into separate sub-parts; for example, Subpart 361-3 now covers just compost and other organic processing facilities, and there is a new Subpart 361-8 for used cooking oil and yellow grease processing facilities. The proposed regulations have an exemption for small compost operations, allowing for community garden composting, and only a registration is required, rather than a permit, for “food scrap composting from 1000 – 5000 cubic yards per year.”
- The Massachusetts Plant Nutrient Management Regulations are seeing their first revision since they were adopted one year ago. These regulations, focused on restricting use of phosphorus (P) fertilizers (see prior NEBRA coverage), may significantly reduce the areas in the state where biosolids and other organic residuals can be applied soils. A UMass Extension symposium on November 2nd will help address questions about how the regulations are implemented. However, through the state's regulatory reform initiative and because of extensive criticism of the original rule, MDAR is proposing changes this summer. The biggest changes to the rule will come in reductions of requirements in the agricultural part of the rule. According to the Department's legal counsel Jessica Burgess, "the revised language is written even more so so that science based details can be integrated into guidance rather than requiring regulation changes. In that way, UMass guidance documents can evolve as new science comes to light."
- Maine: One of several Maine Legislature solid waste bills (LD 1578) "died on adjournment" at the end of April. The original bill had included a variety of tweaks to solid waste laws that NEBRA was watching, including adjustments to fees for landfill disposal and a "food recovery hierarchy" and other measures for increasing diversion from landfills. But, through many meetings and considerable public input, the Joint Committee on Natural Resources ended up shifting this bill's focus mostly to a stewardship program for batteries. That, and other parts of the original bill, are likely to be brought up in the 2017 legislative session.
- Maine: The food hierarchy and other portions of the original omnibus bill ended up in LD 313, which eventually passed as "An Act To Create a Sustainable Solution to the Handling, Management and Disposal of Solid Waste in the State," was signed into law by Governor LePage in mid-April. This new law creates a food waste management hierarchy:
- A. Reduction of the volume of surplus food generated at the source;
- B. Donation of surplus food to food banks, soup kitchens, shelters and other entities that will use surplus food to feed hungry people;
- C. Diversion of food scraps for use as animal feed;
- D. Utilization of waste oils for rendering and fuel conversion, utilization of food scraps for digestion to recover energy, other waste utilization technologies and creation of nutrient-rich soil amendments through the composting of food scraps; and
- E. Land disposal or incineration of food scraps.
It also sets a new goal for recycling & composting of 50% of the state's MSW tonnage by January 1, 2021, and:
- It establishes the Maine Solid Waste Diversion Grant Program, which will "provide grants to public and private entities to assist in the development, implementation or improvement of programs, projects, initiatives or activities designed to increase the diversion of solid waste from disposal in the State…. The department shall give highest priority in the awarding of funds under this section to programs, projects, initiatives or activities proposed by municipal or regional association applicants.... The department shall also give priority to applicants proposing programs, projects, initiatives or activities that are likely to increase the removal and recycling of organic materials from municipal waste streams.”
- The Act gives the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the authority to institute additional fees on disposal of various materials consistent with the waste management hierarchy. It also establishes three food scrap composting pilot projects scattered around the state; however, funding for these was not provided.
- Vermont DEC is moving Residuals Management, focusing more on emerging contaminants in the environment, and shifting staff accordingly. Ernie Kelley, former wastewater program manager, is moving, with the Residuals program, under the Solid Waste umbrella. This makes Ernie the key contact person for residuals management (Ernie.Kelley@vermont.gov, 802-490-6187). He will also be focused on emerging contaminants, a DEC focus driven by discovery of perfuorinated chemicals in groundwater in several places around the region. Eamon Twohig and Allison Lowry, who were closely involved in residuals management, remain in the wastewater section of DEC, focused on permitting and support to treatment plants.
- Newport, in western New Hampshire, restricted septage land application by town vote in May. The ordinance was created in reaction to a proposed septage land application site that was newly cleared of trees and was not seen as an existing agricultural operation, but as something being set up to specifically manage septage. Therefore, the ordinance allows for use of septage on farms, if it is incidental to the farming operation and is done in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations and a conditional permit is obtained from the Newport Planning Board. Stockpiling or holding septage at a land application site is prohibited, and the material must be injected into the soil.