This is in response to an article appearing in the print version of the Sun Journal July 11. The article concerned waste rules and ReEnergy. The story gave a good picture of the complex world of Maine waste. We take issue with some of the statements made by Sen. Nate Libby and ReEnergy’s Greg Leahy.

Sen. Libby claimed that if our proposed rule change passes, it would turn the state’s waste hierarchy “upside down.” Current practices violate Maine’s waste hierarchy. The preferred methods of dealing with waste, in order of priority are: source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, waste to energy and, lastly, landfilling. ReEnergy takes in construction and demolition debris. Over 90% originated in Massachusetts, where DEP cannot enforce Maine’s hierarchy. We believe that by restricting waste inputs at state-owned landfills to waste that is truly subjected to Maine’s hierarchy, we are turning waste practices “right-side up.”

Sen. Libby predicts dire consequences if ReEnergy shuts down. ReEnergy is classified by the DEP as a “processing facility” and by statute is required to recycle at least 50% of its waste inputs. The article mentioned these inputs were 235,650 tons and that 136,000 tons of the outputs came to the Juniper Ridge Landfill as “fines.” The DEP classifies these “fines for daily cover” as a recycled material. This is how ReEnergy even comes close to meeting its 50% threshold. An additional 83,418 tons of CDD “bulky waste” came to Juniper Ridge from ReEnergy. Over 90% of ReEnergy’s inputs were from Massachusetts and a higher percentage of their outputs came to the state landfill.

Leahy said, “. . . without the material from Lewiston, the state would have to purchase virgin soil to use as “daily top cover” for the landfill.” He is wrong. The state does not have to buy anything associated with Juniper Ridge. As operator, Casella bears all the costs. There is an abundance of suitable wastes for daily cover. Tarps may be better.

Sen. Libby justifies massive waste imports because “Maine has been sending its waste to other New England states to be processed as well . . .” If he took the time to look at the actual numbers, we think he would find that the imports exceed the exports by a factor of at least 5-to-1.

When the state took ownership of the Old Town mill’s landfill in 2004 and turned it into Juniper Ridge, state officials and politicians joined with Casella in promising that there would be “no out-of-state waste” put into it. The waste industry lobbyists worked their particular magic behind closed doors and adopted the current absurd definition of Maine waste in 2007.

In contrast, we collected over 250 signatures from Maine citizens in a transparent process to engage with DEP and petition the DEP to adopt our common sense version.

Ed Spencer and Chuck Leithiser, Old Town

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