Bad Time For “Texas” Polluters Fuels Rumors of Takeovers


While there may be some signs of life in the national economic picture, it seems to be a terrible time to have the Lone Star State's name attached to your business. As the Thanksgiving holiday began, the stock price of TXI, aka Texas industries, aka the owners of a brand new permit to burn industrial wastes at its Midlothian cement plant, reached a 52-week low of about $22 per share, compared to more than twice that earlier in the year. That decline could have something to do with its "EBITDA to sales ration," basically an earnings to revenue formula that's supposed to tell you how financially healthy a company is supposed to be.  It's estimate of how many years of earnings would be necessary to pay back all the debt a company has. This ratio is considered to be alarming when it is greater than 3.0. TXI's is 146. It's next closest competitor in the construction materials market is Headwaters at 11. It's numbers like these that consistently land TXI on a list of companies ripe for takeover, especially in an industry that's been consolidating at a record pace the last twenty years. It's also what's motivating the company to turn itself back into a waste incinerator. By this time next year, TXI headquarters could be overseas. Meanwhile Energy Future Holdings, aka, the old Texas Utilities, is also swimming in debt thanks to ill-timed gambling on aging coal plants and hitching its fate to natural gas prices."It's kind of like Greece — by any cold, sober analysis, the math doesn't work,' said one power investment banker," according to Reuters lengthy analysis. The once mighty giant could hit a wall as soon as 2014 when it faces a $4 billion loan payment. Markets put the chance of EFH going into default at 91%. Changes in ownership mean changes in operation at the large polluting facilities of these companies. Could be good – jettisoning those old coal plants for example, or bad – cranking up the kiln to burn even more wastes to cut fuel costs. Stay tuned.  

New TXI Waste-Burning Permit Awarded With No Public Comment

(Dallas)—- Only three years after it finally stopped the controversial practice of burning hazardous waste at its Midlothian cement plant, TXI was awarded a permit in June by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality allowing the company to burn at least 12 new kinds of industrial wastes in its kiln without any public notice, comment, or hearing, and based only on other cement plants’ data. 

Coming to A Kiln Near You: The Brave New World of “Alternative Fuels”

A profile of a Florida Cemex plant reveals the fluidity of current fuel mixes finding their way to your local neighborhood kiln. The entire industry is in flux as a result of new EPA emission rules, concern about greenhouse gases, and the costs of coal in a poor economy. That’s opened up possibilities that just weren’t there even five years ago. In this case, the good news is that agricultural waste such as peanut shells and wood chips are being taken seriously. The bad news is that the plant is still burning tires and tire “fluff” – the polyester part of what you roll on –  and trying to equate those hazardous “non-hazardous”  wastes with with the biofuels that could really improve air quality. We’re seeing the same thing here in North Texas with TXI’s new proposed “Landfill in the Sky” permit that could have the Midlothian plant burning everything from Switchgrass and Wheat Straw (Good) to plastic trash and car “fluff” – all the non-steel parts of a car ground up into piles that are thrown into the kiln (Bad). Because of the uncertainty surrounding where all this is going in light of new EPA definitions of “solid wastes” and “recycling,” now is a good time for citizens to intervene in local permit fights and state and federal policy decisions in order to direct that chaos in a direction that benefits public health. In this case “crisis” really does translate into “danger” and “opportunity.”

Maryland: 2 Garbage-Burning Incinerators Worse than 4 Coal-Burning Power Plants


Because of the relative abundance of cheap land, most Western states have not seen the kind of garbage-incinerator building spree a lot of the East Coat and Mid-West has experienced over the last 30 or so years. We still landfill our trash in Texas for the most part. In their sales pitches, garbage burners are often touted as "renewable energy," and/or "recycling" – just like TXI's burning of hazardous waste was labeled "recycling." What really happens is that other people poisons get recycled into your lungs. Now theEnvironmental Integrity Project has the audacity to actually compare emissions from garbage burners in Maryland to the state's four coal-fired utility plants, and gosh, those incinerators don't look so green anymore. They generated up to five times more mercury and up to 18 times more lead than all four coal-fired plants between 2007 and 2009. The punchline? Maryland wants to double its trash-burning capacity over the next decade. 

When Fake Billionaire Populists Collide


…the results aredepressing and hilariousat the same time. 

"Last month, for example, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) withdrew his co-sponsorship of the measure after “I heard,” he said, that “T. Boone Pickens tends to stand to make a lot of money on it.” Pitts said, “I don’t want to be accused of, you know, doing some sweetheart deal for somebody.” So, he said “I decided I better get off.”

Six days later, Pitts accepted a $1,000 check from Koch PAC — part of a total of $14,000 that the PAC gave six House Republicans in the weeks after they pulled their co-sponsorships of the bill."

Landfill Mining for Kiln Fuel


How cozy: "Entsorga, a subsidiary of the Tortona, Italy-based Entsorga Italia S.p.A, has proposed to lease 4 acres of the Solid Waste Authority's old landfill property at 870 Grapevine Road for the "waste-to-alternative-fuel" operation. The lease the company proposed is for 20 years, Hogbin said. The fuel produced after the raw waste is separated, shredded, granulated and screened could be used at facilities such as a cement kiln operated by Essroc Italcemente Group, which quarries limestone and produces cement nearby, DEP engineer Steven R. Pursley said Thursday."