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An administrative law judge has recommended that Carroll County Solid Waste Authority run its own regional solid-waste district.

Carroll County is one of six north Arkansas counties in which an annual $18 fee service for landowners has been levied to pay back the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment for taking over, as a court-appointed receiver, financially troubled Ozark Mountain Solid Waste Management District projects. Leaders in those counties have opposed the fee.

The department spent $12.9 million bailing out the district on a landfill and another $1 million cleaning up a tire dump of about 1 million tires. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered the $18 fee.

The state has 18 regional solid-waste districts, funded largely by the state. In recent years, as struggles at Ozark Mountain and other solid-waste districts have prompted the department to disburse funds and take legal action, the department has ended some fees and grant programs for the districts.

The Carroll County Solid Waste Authority petitioned to become its own solid-waste district in February. The authority has denied that it's doing so to avoid the fee, and leaders testified that they did not believe the county could avoid the fee if the petition were approved.

Opponents of the petition, including the department, asserted that the county could avoid the fee.

In his recommended decision, Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Administrative Law Judge Charles Moulton said the authority met the legal requirements to become an independent district. It has "the necessary programs, assets, and personnel in place to run a model solid waste management district."

In regard to the fee, Moulton said the fee would still be applied because it was levied by the court and the department, not the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste Management District.

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission meets Oct. 25 and could vote on Moulton's decision at that time. An agenda has not been set.

Arkansas 33rd in energy efficiency

Arkansas is the 33rd most energy-efficient state, according to the 2019 Energy Efficiency Scorecard released this month by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The state earned 14 of 50 available points in the scorecard, down from 14.5 points last year.

Arkansas scores its best on the state policies metric, 3.5 out of 6 points, for loan programs for energy efficiency and for the creation of regulatory framework for municipalities and counties to facilitate the financing of energy efficiency projects in the private sector. Those projects are designed to eventually pay for themselves.

Arkansas received no points in the appliance efficiency standards category, only 1 point for transportation policies, 3 of 8 points for building energy efficiency policies, and 7 of 20 points for utility and public benefits programs and policies. The state received minus 0.5 of 3 points on its combined heat and power score.

Those scores are largely for taking fewer steps than other states, but the state also lost points for assessing fees on electric vehicles and allowing large utility customers to opt out of energy efficiency requirements.

More than 50 large customers have opted out, the report states.

NW News on 10/09/2019

Print Headline: Solid-waste plan gains judge's favor Arkansas 33rd in energy efficiency

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