Powell wins passage on landfill amendment

ATLANTA -- Garbage haulers wouldn't be required to fuel their trucks with methane in order to get contracts with the landfill that generates it, according to an amendment Sen. J.B. Powell won passage of in the Senate today.

The measure seeks to prevent Augusta commissioners from requiring the haulers to buy gas from the city's landfill as part of a proposed $20 million conversion. It passed 35-5 as part of a bill to streamline the process for private landfills to get a permit to open a second landfill.

Powell said he wanted to protect small haulers who can't afford to convert their trucks to burn methane. Companies that make the conversions would have to pass the added cost on to their customers. With fewer haulers offering price competition, customers would have little choice but to pay the higher prices, he said.

Additionally, he worries that the companies already using the methane for their plants will consider moving their jobs and close their plants if their energy costs rise.

Powell said he has discussed his concerns with Augusta officials.

"It's not that I'm trying to strong-arm them," he said. "It's that I'm trying to say, 'Hey, be aware of what you're doing.' "

The measure has to return to the House for approval of the Senate changes. Augusta legislators could try to remove Powell's amendment there.

Delegation Chairman Quincy Murphy said he doesn't have plans for that.

"We have not had any discussions with the city about that at all," he said.

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