MACo Calls For County Input on Anaerobic Digestion & Recycling Facility Legislation

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Leslie Knapp Jr. testified in support of HB 61, Environment – Solid Waste, Recycling, and Anaerobic Digestion to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March, 22, 2016.

This bill would enact new regulations for recycling and anaerobic digestion facilities. The legislation was sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). MACo requested amendments on the House side providing counties and other affected stakeholders with a voice in the creation of the new regulations.  The House passed the bill with the MACo amendment.

From MACo’s testimony:

Anaerobic digestion is a promising technology that can help both urban and rural counties address food, human, animal, and other organic waste while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating power. However, anaerobic digestion facilities have no chance of becoming widespread in Maryland until there is regulatory certainty over how they should operate.

Additionally, as materials recovery facilities (MRFs) sort and process recyclables collected through the single stream process, they are handling increasing amounts of what is currently defined as non-recyclable “solid waste.” Under current law, this could trigger the need for MRFs to apply for a solid waste disposal permit – an expensive and cumbersome requirement that was never intended to apply to them. HB 61 would allow MDE to adopt regulations to require recycling facilities like MRFs to meet reasonable public safety and health requirements while avoiding the need to apply for a solid waste permit.

The House amendments to HB 61 add clarifying provisions for sewage treatment works that conduct anaerobic digestion and facilities using sewage sludge. Per MACo’s request, the amendments also require MDE to consult counties and other affected stakeholders when creating the regulations. MACo feels this is equitable given that counties have been mandated by the State to be the primary entity responsible for recycling.

This bill passed the House (138-0) on February 25, 2016.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.