BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 222
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          Date of Hearing:   May 20, 2009

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                      AB 222 (Adams) - As Amended:  May 5, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                              U&C  Vote:11-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              No


          This bill allows facilities that convert solid waste into energy  
          or chemicals to count as a renewable electricity generation  
          facility for the purpose of California's Renewable Portfolio  
          Standard (RPS).  It also allows local governments to count solid  
          waste that is converted into electricity or chemicals toward  
          their recycling diversion goals.  Specifically, this bill:

          1)Defines "biorefinery" and requires such facilities to meet or  
            exceed all local and state air and water quality standards, as  
            well as other specified environmental protection criteria.

          2)Includes use of conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW) at a  
            biorefinery to electricity or certain other useful products  
            among the criteria that qualifies a facility for purposes of  
            the RPS.

          3)Prohibits a local government from including solid waste  
            diverted to a biorefinery towards its compliance with the  
            state requirement to divert 50% of solid waste from landfill  
            or transformation.

          4)Allows a local jurisdiction to include solid waste diverted to  
            a biorefinery towards meeting a requirement to divert more  
            than 50 % of solid waste from landfill or transformation.

          5)Repeals the definition of "solid waste conversion" and  
            specifies that a gasification facility is not a biorefinery. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Negligible costs, if any.


                                                                  AB 222
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           1)Rationale  .  The author contends this bill updates statute to  
            enable the production of advanced, non-food derived biofuels,  
            green power and other biobased products from biomass that  
            would otherwise be lost to landfill.  The author contends that  
            AB 222 allows California to establish advanced technology  
            facilities while retaining California's environmental  


             a)   Existing Waste Reduction Goals.   AB 939 (Sher, Statutes  
               of 1989) established the state's solid waste diversion  
               program, which requires each city and county to divert 25%  
               of solid waste from landfill disposal or  
               "transformation"-generally meaning the burning of waste as  
               a method of disposal-by January 1, 1995, and to divert 50%  
               of solid waste on and after 2000.  While several  
               communities have met or exceeded the 50% solid waste  
               diversion goal, the actual amount of solid waste disposed  
               in landfills statewide has increased substantially since  

               Existing law prioritizes the methods by which a  
               municipality may manage its waste stream.  The two  
               most-desirable methods of waste management are source  
               reduction followed by recycling and composting.  The  
               equally least desirable methods of waste management are  
               "environmentally safe" transformation-which, under current  
               law, includes MSW conversion-and land filling.   
               Transformation was so prioritized because of concerns about  
               air pollution traditionally produced by solid waste  
             b)   Renewable Portfolio Standard.   The RPS requires  
               investor-owned utilities and certain other retail sellers  
               of electricity to receive 20% of their electricity from  
               renewable resources by 2010.  The RPS defines RPS-eligible  
               renewable resources to include a variety of energy sources,  
               such as solar energy, wind, and geothermal energy.   


                                                                  AB 222
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               Faculties that produce electricity from any of these  
               renewable resources must meet a number of criteria,  
               including that the facility not violate any California  
               environmental quality standard or requirement.  

              c)   MSW Conversion Faces Insurmountable Hurdles.   In  
               addition to the criteria applicable to any RPS-eligible  
               renewable resource facility, MSW conversion alone must meet  
               additional standards to qualify as a renewable resource, as  
               shown here:

               i)     The technology does not use air or oxygen in the  
                 conversion process, 
               ii)    The technology produces no discharge of air  
               iii)   The technology produces no discharges to surface or  
                 ground water, 
               iv)    The technology produces no hazardous waste, and 
               v)     To the extent feasible, the technology removes all  
                 recyclable, materials from the solid waste.

               Because no MSW conversion facility can meet some of these  
               standards, current law, in effect, prohibits MSW conversion  
               facilities from qualifying for purposes of meeting the  
               state renewable energy goals. 

           3)Equal Treatment for MSW Facilities  .  This bill would apply  
            criteria to MSW conversion facilities similar to the criteria  
            that apply to certain other RPS-eligible energy facilities.   
            In doing so, it would thereby allow MSW conversion to count  
            toward meeting the RPS.

           4)AB 222 Departs From Current Waste Reduction Policy.   As  
            described above, existing law prioritizes the methods by which  
            waste is to be managed, with transformation of solid waste and  
            land filling being the least desirable waste management  
            methods.  This bill allows a local government to count  
            conversion of municipal solid waste at a biorefinery as part  
            of its diversion of solid waste, should a local government be  
            required to divert more than 50% of its solid waste.  In doing  
            so, the bill makes one practice that is currently defined as  
            transformation-conversion of solid waste into electricity-the  
            coequal of the currently higher goals of source reduction,  
            recycling and composting


                                                                  AB 222
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           5)Supporters  , including some industry groups and some local  
            governments, argue this bill will allow California to both  
            capture the economic value inherent to the tremendous amount  
            of "waste" that is currently lost to landfill and protect  
            California's environment.  They further argue that existing  
            law inappropriately lumps conversion of waste into energy  
            under the definition of "transformation."  Such  
            categorization, supporters claim, reflects an outdated  
            perception that any technology that reduces waste through the  
            application of heat is equivalent to highly polluting solid  
            waste incinerators that wastefully fail to capture the  
            economic value inherent to solid waste.  
          6)Opponents  , including several environmental and environmental  
            justice organizations, argue that this bill could result in  
            the release of toxic air emissions that result from the  
            "cooking" of waste.   These opponents note that municipal  
            solid waste conversion is unlike biomass conversion, which  
            relies on a uniform predictable feed stock, such as straw and  
            grasses, and that produces predictably clean emissions.  Solid  
            waste conversion, conversely, relies on feed stock that is as  
            varied as the contents of the solid waste stream.  The quality  
            of emissions resulting from such solid waste conversion,  
            opponents claim, is therefore unpredictable and will most  
            certainly include high levels of pollutants, regardless of the  
            bill's language to the contrary.

            Opponents also argue that this bill provides local government  
            with a perverse incentive to send their solid waste to  
            biorefineries rather than increasing their rate of recycling  
            or composting or reducing the volume of their waste stream.   
            Such an incentive contradicts well-established state waste  
            management goals.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Jay Dickenson / APPR. / (916) 319-2081