Creative Commission to Sell the Smell

Trash to cash

Last week the Board of Commissioners considered a proposal to capture methane gas from a couple of landfills and sell it on the open market.  Global warming conspirators unite!  You see, “landfill methane is produced when organic materials (such as yard waste, household waste, food waste, and paper) are decomposed by bacteria under anaerobic conditions (i.e., in the absence of oxygen).”  Our Global Warming friends remind us that “the adage, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” (is) anything but true when it comes to America’s improperly abandoned landfills. Uncapped and unlined, such landfills spew out methane gas: a threat to human health and a documented factor in global warming.  Methane is a greenhouse gas of such interest to science that researchers have drilled 2 mile long ice cores in glaciers to study methane in relation to climate change in eons past.”

So, the county can make money off the evil greenhouse gas that comes from our garbage and appease the global warming community by collecting the gas and selling it.  Sounds like a real win/win, doesn’t it?   The problem is that the cost is $6.1m and the county anticipates the revenue at $8-11m over 20 years.  By my calculations, best case scenario, the Return on Investment is only 82%.

Well, how can it only be 82% when it makes money?  There isn’t a 20 year treasury bond, but since the 10 year bond is 2.8% and the 30 year is 4.13%, let’s split the difference and say a 20 year U.S. treasury bond is 3.47%.  If we were to invest the $6.1m into a U.S. treasury bond at 3.47%, we would actually see a return of $12,067,541 at the end of 20 years.

Does this sound like a winner to you?  Commissioner Lutz seems to think so.  Lutz was quoted as saying, “that looks like obviously the logical way to go.  We just have to know if there’s a demand out there for the gas.”  I hope he is looking at different numbers that what was reported, because to me the logical way to go is not to spend the money.

Hugh Hall County Akston

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