April 10 — Peter Anderson´s letter in the March 20 issue of WRN, "Landfill gas projects don´t perform well," takes exception to my letter-to-the-editor ("Landfill gas info misleading," March 5) in which I stated, among other things, that U.S. EPA regulations "reflect the maximum degree of gas collection ... that is achievable."
Anderson says that my claims have been "discredited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) based upon an extensive independent analysis by Dutch landfill engineer Hans Oonk."
Mr. Anderson is wrong and he knows that he is wrong.
In an opinion piece in the January/February issue of MSW Management, "LFG: Some Essential Facts," Anderson made the same claim and several letters-to-the-editor expressed open aversion and contempt for Mr. Anderson´s inaccurate and self-serving use of the facts. One, in particular, from Dr. Caroline Snyder, professor emeritus of Rochester Institute of Technology, hit the nail on the head: "Anderson´s article blatantly ignores recent data, purposely misquotes and manipulates sections of the IPCC report, and contains no evidence for its absurd conclusion that ´only a trivial fraction of landfill gas is captured´ at current LFGTE facilities."
To substantiate this accusation the article included background information provided by Dr. Jean Bogner, the coordinating lead author (CLA) for the waste management chapter of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4) Working Group III (WGIII) Mitigation of Climate Change. This information categorically refutes Anderson´s claim that the IPCC has "discredited" the fact that high, lifetime landfill gas recovery efficiencies are achievable. Mr. Anderson fails to properly cite the text or accurately represent the conclusions in the IPCC´s Waste Management chapter.
The authors of the IPCC report took a policy neutral approach and simply cited the range of landfill gas recovery efficiencies found in the literature. Those published numbers range from the low percentages based on theoretical calculations in the dated Oonk and Boom analysis (1995), which did not involve any field measurements, to the much higher percentages based on extensive field measurements in the newer Spokas et al. (2006) paper.
Mr. Anderson selectively ignores the findings of highly efficient landfill gas recovery from more recently published work that involves extensive field measurements. I quote from Bogner et al. (2007): "The implementation of an active landfill gas extraction system using vertical wells or horizontal collectors is the single most important mitigation measure to reduce emissions. Intensive field studies of the methane mass balance at [landfill] cells with a variety of design and management practices have shown that 90% recovery can be achieved at cells with final cover and an efficient gas extraction system.
In closing, Mr. Anderson has said all this before, and been refuted by the cognoscenti of landfill gas emissions research. He needs to step into the 21st century and update his so called "facts" with the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Bruce J. Parker is president and CEO of the Environmental Industry Associations.