City Officials Lambaste Legislature; Wind Turbine Disposal Bill Would Hurt Casper
Several Casper officials at a work session Tuesday castigated the Legislature for not paying enough attention to the budget and too much attention to proposed legislation that is inconsequential if not harmful.
"Instead of making pragmatic choices, decisions for the budget that need to be made -- and this is coming from a centrist -- in order for people to function in the state of Wyoming, [in other words] the educational system is down, what, $400 million or something like that," council member Ray Pacheco said.
"They're not doing what they're supposed to be doing," Pacheco said.
"That's affecting the city of Casper, and that makes me upset as a council member," he said. "That's unfortunate, that's what's happening, and it's hurting our city."
Wednesday, several council members and City Manager Carter Napier will travel to Cheyenne for a meeting of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and to visit individual legislators.
Among the meetings, Napier said one will be with Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, who is a co-sponsor along with Rep. Bunky Loucks, R-Casper, of House Bill 217 that would ban the disposal of wind turbine blades, unless sent to a facility that "reuses, recycles, breaks down or repurposes the blades."
A violation, which would be each blade improperly disposed, would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. [Tuesday, the bill passed the House on a second reading, with an amendment by Rep. Pat Sweeney, R-Casper, that would move the effective date to July 1, 2024, from July 1, 2020.]
In July, the Casper Regional Solid Waste Facility announced it began accepting fiberglass wind turbine blades that are being replaced. The blades are made of non-recyclable fiberglass and are difficult to crush. Destroying the blades requires compacting equipment that's larger and more powerful than what the city currently has. Fiberglass does not leach into the soil or groundwater.
Napier said HB 217, and whatever reasoning may be behind it, puzzles him. "It's very, very interesting how it's gotten so much traction over the last few months."
Napier said he'd like to see HB 217 defeated so Casper can continue to serve the private sector.
The city stands to receive more than $600,000 from customers using the landfill for blade disposal, he and some council members said.
"It's a good business proposal for them and a great business proposal for us, because these kinds of revenues help us to keep local [solid waste disposal] rates down," Napier said.
Ray Pacheco asked if Anderson understands that the wind turbine blade disposal helps keep the local rates down.
Anderson did not immediately return a phone call for comment Tuesday night.
Council member Charlie Powell said from what he's seen, "it sounds like we are making it more possible for wind energy to get a foothold, and therefore attacking the coal industry."
Mike Huber wondered if those sponsoring this and similar legislation are just looking in the rear view mirror and thinking "that evil wind electricity is going to take over that good coal electricity."
Pacheco added he hopes those going to Cheyenne on Wednesday will have a reasonable conversation with the lawmakers about the budget and what's best for Casper and Wyoming.
"I'm hoping that common sense will prevail," he said.