By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Beth Henry-Vance attended the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority meeting to inform the members of the board of the programs and goals the department of environmental protection offers the youth in the county. Henry-Vance is the Youth Environmental Program coordinator for District 3 that includes not only Tucker County but also Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Randolph, Pocahontas, and Upshur counties.
Henry-Vance explained that the goals of the YEP program is to increase environmental awareness among young people and energize them to take steps in becoming responsible stewards of the environment. She also works with solid waste authorities throughout her district to promote recycling education opportunities. Henry- Vance said, “There are several activities and presentations about environmental topics available for students in preschool through high school. Plus, members can compete for more than $15,000 in awards annually, including a $2,500-per-year college scholarship for one lucky high school senior. The YEP offers Junior Conservation Camp each June for ages 11 to 14, as well as the Youth Environmental Conference during a weekend in October.”
In addition to the YEP program, the DEP has many programs aimed at fulfilling its mission of promoting a healthy environment. Some of those programs include the Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Spot, and Make it Shine litter cleanup programs. Henry-Vance explained more information can be found on the YEP or other DEP initiatives by visiting the DEP website at www.wv.gov and entering “Youth Environmental Program” in the search bar or by contacting her directly at 304-314-6097.
Another guest of the authority was Jeffery Craig of the Renewable Natural Gas Company. Craig presented the authority with information on the possibility of placing a gas collection system plant on the property of the landfill. The plant will operate unmanned except for any upgrades or repairs needed, and the authority will have the option to purchase the plant for $1 from RNGC. Craig said, “Municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest human-generated of methane emissions in the United States.”
RNGC is the developer and operator of landfill gas to energy projects that produce pipeline quality renewable natural gas for the compressed natural gas vehicle fuel market. RNGC developed their first landfill gas to renewable natural gas in 1999. According to Craig, “Those projects have operated continuously for the past 22 plus years and RNGC has created a unique development strategy aimed at increasing the universe of potential development sites and mitigating the risks that is the cause of economic under performance of some projects. RNGC has assembled a team with extensive project development, execution, and operating experience to execute the strategy.”
Benefits to the local community and the environment were discussed. Local community benefits include the royalties the landfill would receive from the plant could be in the ball park of $150,000 to $200,000 per year for 20 plus years. The county would receive an estimated $130,000 in personal property taxes and the project would reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.
The project captures landfill gases in lieu of the release of the methane into the atmosphere and converts it into renewable natural gas. This energy source is utilized in place of non-renewable energy source creating a domestic, renewable, clean fuel and energy supply with the lowest carbon of any fuel on a lifecycle basis. Renewable natural gas offers the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any commercially available fuel and reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 70 to 300 percent as compared to conventional diesel or gasoline.
Renewable natural gas is a market item for companies such as UPS Inc., Amazon, and Waste Management. UPS Inc. announced in 2020 it spent $450 million to add 6,000 vehicles powered by compressed natural gas as well as supporting infrastructure. In 2021 Amazon ordered 1,000 compressed natural gas vehicles and increased the number of compressed gas vehicles available to its partners. Also in 2021, Amazon ordered hundreds of trucks that run on compressed natural gas as it tests ways to shift its United States fleet away from heavier polluting trucks.
The project teams include Lee Enterprises Consulting, Chemex Global, and Greenlane Biogas. Solid Waste Authority President Mark Holstine motioned for the board to vote on whether to have RNGC prepare a proposal for the gas collection plant that will provide further information on what will be needed and included to install the plant on the landfill’s property. The board voted in favor of the motion.
Upon formal acceptance of a proposal RNGC will provide drafts of all of the agreements necessary for the purchase of the landfill gas, project construction and operation, as well as more definitive project schedules. Upon execution of the agreements, it will take three to six months to design and permit the landfill gas compression system and depending on the time of year, it generally takes three months for construction. The energy project generally takes 10 to 12 months start to finish.
The next TCSWA meeting will be held on January 10, 2023, at 3 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the TCSWA office located at 284 Landfill Road, Davis.