Synopsis of Memorandum Filed with Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by Doyle & Nelson on Behalf of Penobscot Energy Recovery Corporation (PERC)

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee has, during the most recent legislative session, been reviewing and evaluating every aspect of the existing Solid Waste Management Program in Maine.  The effort was driven by the committee’s consideration of L.D. 1483, “An Act to Promote and Enhance State Policy to Preserve and Support Existing Methods of Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste”.

As part of its plan, the committee voted to recommend the bill for passage and given a new title, “An Act to Amend the Solid Waste Management Hierarchy”.  That bill was enacted.  Additionally, the majority of the committee requested that the Maine DEP take appropriate action to review the Maine 2014 Materials Management Plan presented to the committee and give the committee some help in evaluating the need for further legislation.  It specified some areas of consideration and The DEP has since suggested that it would “…welcome any and all input from interested parties/stakeholders with respect to proposals to amend the State’s Solid Waste Materials Management Plan.”

Doyle & Nelson has filed on behalf of one of the State’s three waste-to-energy facilities, Penobscot Energy Recovery Corporation (PERC) a memorandum noting some areas that could be considered to Maine’s ultimate advantage.  The memo points out that the State has some rich and helpful experience which, if looked at, will note that Maine has, a number of years ago, started down the track of how Maine should handle its waste in a comprehensive kind of a way.  We previously regulated to a minor extent the sales of certain personal property like tires, batteries and, at one time, went so far as to regulate so-called white goods – refrigerators, stoves, etc.

One of the concerns as we go along is how municipalities will be able to afford to deal with the disposal of waste, since there’s been some reduction in their revenue sharing monies.  The memorandum points out that, if we look at Maine’s history, we can figure out ways to do that without substantial burden.  It notes that we once had fees on those white goods which we noted, but that, with some attention, some of the older statutes could be changed just slightly to raise revenues that would address municipalities’ need for attention and assistance without the need to engage in the retrograde action of created more landfills.  It uses as an example, as well, Maine’s experience with a new approach to disposal of a stewardship program for architectural paint which was implemented through legislation enacted in 2014.

The memorandum suggests that, if one looks at areas where the Legislature started to focus, some fees in the areas of consumer products, there can be some action and suggests that taking a look at Maine’s very successful returnable beverage container law would also be helpful.

The memorandum points out that, if the inclination of Maine voters is any guide, clearly citizens have expressed themselves notably through affirmative votes on bond issues and through expression in polling data that they are strongly in favor of moving this state forward by better managing the solid waste hierarchy in a manner that minimizes future solid waste disposal in landfills.

The memorandum also provides a draft calculation of revenue generation and attaches some studies done in other states.  It sums up by pointing out that those studies, together with Maine’s and other states’ actions, we can advance Maine’s cause and, in fact, its people’s cause by better managing Maine waste management policy.  The suggestion is, in the memorandum, that we take a look at what happened to Maine at the time that public utilities, such as electrical generators, were unregulated; convene an authority that can deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner; and move Maine forward.

For further details, the full memorandum and its exhibits are available at: http://www.doylenelson.com/PublicPolicy2.php?IMPORTANT-DEP-ACTION-Waste-Management-Plan-7