Monday, July 25, 2011

Garbage In

A number of talented bureaucrats who invented the recycling program in Seattle also played important roles in the creation of electricity conservation programs a few years earlier and transferred much of what they had learned about the stewardship of electricity to the stewardship of garbage.

Chinese protest scrap metal deliveries to Japan in 1936 after
China invades Manchuria
Oregon History Museum
There had always been a booming recycling industry in Seattle, particularly in scrap metals.  In 1939, the US was exporting 2,000,000 tons of scrap metal/year to Japan alone, much of it from the Pacific Northwest.  It took four years after the Japanese invaded China in 1936 for the government to cut off a major source of metals to Japan.  The steel in bombs that fell on Pearl Harbor contained American content.

Museum of History and Industry
Recycling in World War II was based on two powerful concepts, sacrifice and engagement.  Everybody could pitch in and lots did.  In October of 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt came to Seattle for a scrap metal collection event sponsored by all three newspapers, the Times, the Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Star.
She spoke in Victory Square, at University Street between 4th and 5th, and urged people to look at every object as having value to the war effort.  The paper boys distributed cans with slots in them to every grocery and drug store for keys that no longer fit the locks they were created for.  They contained, among other metals, nickel, a key component in batteries and other national defense products. 

Seattle Times

The theme of the event, “Get in the Scrap,” motivated volunteers throughout the Puget Sound to various collection points, where additional volunteers loaded trucks bound for Bethlehem Steel, the successor company to Charles Piggot’s Seattle Steel, founded in 1904 in the West Seattle tide flats.  Purchased by Nucor after Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy, it continues to recycle steel today and claims to be the largest recycler in the state.

The roots in Seattle’s recycling are found in the city's decision, in 1976, that its electric utility should pursue a mix of small hydro and conservation projects rather than purchase a position in two nuclear power plants pushed by a consortium of Northwest public utilities and backed by nearly all utilities in the region.
Seattle chose a different path because it used a different way of thinking about purchasing a new resource.  Then a new concept in the electricity industry, least cost planning meant that you included conservation as part of the planning equation, as well as the price responses of consumers and other factors.  The industry was extrapolating the growth curves of the fifties and sixties into the eighties and nineties, and that produced a clear and compelling picture of what to do -– buy more plants.
Seattle City Light

The least cost planning model produced a muddier image of the future in which electricity growth was uneven over time and the plans envisioned several different scenarios.   The shocker, at the time, was whatever scenario you chose, the price of conservation was beating just about any other resource by a big margin.  And there was plenty of conservation available. 
The biggest idea of the lot was that if you could delay purchase a more expensive resource by the acquisition of many small strategies, the consumer did better, there was less risk for the utility and the environment got a better deal as well. 
The utility industry hated the idea of least cost planning – until it adopted the concept after the economic collapse of the nuclear program in the Northwest.  Subsequently, the industry dropped the idea when it believed that Uncle Market would solve all its problems in a deregulated world and, chastened, took it up again after Enron’s collapse.

Geer Associates

Seattle’s waste strategy was not as tidy as its electricity strategy had become.  It was sending its construction and demolition debris to the Midway Landfill south of the city and its household and commercial waste to Kent Highlands, across I-5 from Midway.  Both were dubious sites from the start, Midway an unlined, mined out gravel pit full of hazardous materials and Kent Highlands, perched on the hill above the Kent Valley, seemed ready to tumble into the valley, garbage and all.

Explosive gasses from Midway migrated into houses nearby and they had to be evacuated.  Seattle closed down the landfill and began purchasing houses as the place became a Superfund site.  A stream running through Kent Highlands carried contaminants into the Kent Valley below.  It too got Superfund status.  All in, the clean up would cost $90 million dollars.

But the city still needed a place to take its garbage and it really had only one option – King County’s landfill, Cedar Hills.  The county noted accurately that it was the city’s only available option, recalled how the city had rebuffed its efforts to participate in the landfill years earlier and held the city up.  Seattle garbage rates increased 82%.
Seattle Public Utilities

The electricity mavens in the city, now garbologists, reasoned that the value of a recycled ton of garbage, much like a conserved electron, thrives on a higher cost alternative.  They created a variable can rate that charged significantly less for the smaller container and incentivized the faithful.   They banned grass clippings from garbage cans, incentivizing the compost industry.  They motivated their customers to try two different approaches to recycling.  In the northern part of the city, they asked them to sort their glass, aluminum, paper and cardboard at the curb.  In the south, they went with a one-big-box approach that was processed at a MRF, a materials recovery facility, a nightmare of conveyor belts, bursts from air pressure nozzles and flying cardboard.
And it worked like crazy.  Everyone was talking about garbage.  The Danes, the Germans, the Norwegians were worshipping the wizards of Seattle and studying every move they made.  “Tastes Great/Less Filling” disputes broke out between the sorters and the boxers, the sorters claiming that the slightly higher recycling rate by the boxers was more than offset by the smaller rate of contamination achieved by source separation. 
Already a good recycler at 28% of the waste stream in 1985, Seattle nearly doubled its recycling rate to 44% by 1989 and it set a goal of reducing, reusing or composting 60% of the waste stream by 1998.  
Seattle Public Utilities

The city still had to do something with the leftover garbage.  It proposed a garbage burner in the down-in-the-mouth neighborhood of Georgetown.  Georgetown crushed the idea and, by the way, became the completely cool neighborhood it is today.
The city finally settled on sending its garbage by train to a dry land, highly engineered Waste Management site in Oregon rather than continue with the confiscatory pricing of King County.
Its goal of 60% needed some adjusting in the nineties and now is set for 60% by 2012.  The city has picked up momentum again, improving its recycling performance for seven straight years.  Seattle Public Utilities most recent report, published on July 20, shows residential customers now recycling more than 70% of their garbage, commercial customers 60% and multi-family customers, where many strategies work less well, about 30%.  Overall, nearly 54% of the city’s waste is recycled today.  Not bad for a bunch of bureaucrats.
A sad footnote here – the boxers won.  The city ultimately abandoned the source separation strategy in favor of boxes that could also hold household food scraps.  Aptly, “less filling” wins the day.

Seattle's 1998 Solid Waste Management Plan

Seattle City Light Conservation Programs, 1977-2006

Puget Sound Energy's Least Cost Plan

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Birth and Perilous Life of the Washington State Ferries

The central fact of life for the Washington State Ferry system is the confluence of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, framed by Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula, and Puget Sound, a narrow fjord that pushes a hundred miles from its mouth at the San Juan Islands to the state capitol in Olympia. 

It is a complicated mix of constituencies and demands.  The San Juans are rural and rely heavily on a seasonal tourist industry.  Service interruptions there rattle through the entire community.  Further south, routes require service to swarms of commuters along with vacationers and their campers headed for the Olympic Peninsula.  There is international service to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. 

The Washington State Ferries serve 22 million people annually on 22 vessels at 20 terminals.  It makes 500 trips a day and is the third largest ferry system in the world. 

The Washington State Ferry system is sixty years old this year and its birth was long and loud.  Like many troublesome things in the ferry business, the change from a private system to a public one started over a fare increase gone bad. 

Captain Alexander Peabody was the owner of Puget Sound Navigation.  He was an aristocrat, a free-enterprising Republican -- he built the Kalakala for God's sake -- the streamlined ferry the Saturday Evening Post called the "biggest nautical event since Noah's Arc."  He married a Bremerton girl and moved to The Highlands, the most exclusive neighborhood in town then and now.  His great grandfather was a Captain in the Black Ball Line that served the Liverpool and New York route in the early 19th Century.  His dad started in the ferry business in Puget Sound at the end of the century and Peabody took over the company and revived the Black Ball brand in the twenties. 

The early maritime public transport in the Puget Sound was a swarm of big and little vessels called the mosquito fleet.  Peabody was a relentless and canny aggregator who soon swatted away the small boats, started putting cars on his ferries and took control of the routes in and near Puget Sound.  What he couldn't control were the gritty labor unions like the Inland Boatman's Union and the Marine Engineers Benevolent Association who struck frequently in the thirties and later, made up for lost time after World War II was over.

Peabody wanted recognition for keeping rates down during the war and he needed peace with his unions.  So, soon after gaining a ten percent post war increase he asked for another 30% average increase in 1947. 

The State Transportation Department, then the ferry rates regulator, initially approved but backed off after the system's 100,000 ferry riders went crazy.  There was reason to be upset.  A car and driver from Seattle to Port Angeles paid a fairly stiff $10.10 in 1946 but was looking at $17.82 in 1947.  Seattle-Bremerton went from $1.76 to $3.10. The Transportation Department then said it would approve the rate on a contingent basis and conduct a thorough review of the company's books.  After six months, the state came back with the news that only 10% was justified and the company would have to offer a refund to every rider who could produce a ticket. 

Now it was Peabody's time to go crazy and he threatened to tie up his boats.  Few believed him, but he did.  The system's riders found alternatives.  The Edmonds Beachcombers Club chartered "Sea Dream" to serve the Kingston traffic.  The Vashon Chamber of Commerce charterwd the 65 foot "Gallant Lady" and the "Lincoln."  Bainbridge Island snapped up "The Virginia V."  The Navy, operating the Bremerton Shipyard at full bore, sent LSTs to its facilities in Seattle to pick up its workers.  On the first run, an enormous rat ran the length of the ship to the cheers of the passengers.

A couple of weeks later, when Black Ball tried to restart service to Vashon, a group of men would not let the boat land. 

"We're not going to let anyone off or on that boat," said F. C.  Bard, Chamber of Commerce President.  " We've got 25 good, husky young lads down here and we know where we can get lots more."

By the end of 1949, the state had negotiated a deal with Peabody that kept the system in place until the state could assume full responsibility, in June of 1951, paying Peabody $5,000,000.  Peabody wouldn't sell the route from Port Angeles to Victoria and Black Ball still plies that route today.  Peabody died in 1980.

In the 1980s, frustrated by the fluctuation in revenue from the state's gas tax, the principal source of funding at the time of the takeover, WSF persuaded the legislature to let it use the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax as its principal funding source. 

In 1999, taxpayer activist Tim Eyman had the appealing idea of replacing the state's Motor Vehicle Excise Tax with a simple, single license fee.  The MVET was based on a percentage of the car's value and it was not unusual to cough up $200-$300 dollars for your license tabs.  The initiative that was circulating proposed a simple $30 charge.  Voters quickly got the math and the initiative passed, taking away $160 million in annual revenue or a third of the WSF operating budget.

That blow was quickly followed by 9/11 and the security costs that followed.

At the same time, ferry ridership had peaked and would, over the next several years, began a slow decline, accelerated by the price response to the fare increases needed to replace the MVET loss.  Fare box revenue was 25%-40% of operating costs before the fateful decision to leave the gas tax, and stands at a remarkable 70% today.

The fleet’s age, always a problem, began to show after 2000.  Deferred maintenance led to less reliable service while, at the same time, there was no money for newer, more efficient boats.  The decision by the state legislature to put on a requirement that the system could only contract with an in-state boat builder limited the system's bargaining power.  The steady rise of fuel prices, the relentless cost increases that followed and the startling announcement that the system was scrapping four vessels because they were no longer safe all ate at even the most supportive constituents.  

Tomorrow is always intruding on the state ferry system.  No comparable fleet in the world has such aged boats.  British Columbia boats average 21 years of age, Norway's boats average 28.  The ferry system average is 38 years. To keep the average age of the fleet steady, WSF needs to build a new boat every three years.  The capital set asides it enjoyed prior to 2000 are gone now and each new budget is a fight against an impressive array of other priorities.  The main costs of the system are people at 59% and fuel at 21%, which leaves little room for further cost reductions or new boats.  Despite the tough times, two new ferries have been recently delivered and another is under construction.  All are on time and on budget.  The system has a solid on-time record, 97% of the time.

The choices that people can make – like working at home – and the choices over which people have no control – like aging – keep chipping away at the customer base.  Many of the ferry destinations where middle class workers lived have turned into retirement communities.

Still, at 60, Washington State Ferries remains the state’s most popular tourist attraction.  It is a classic amalgam of bread and circuses.  Bleary commuters sit at their computers while gawkers from Kansas gape at Mount Rainier. 

Other factors lead people to believe the years of neglect have passed into something better.  Costs have been cut by $28 million a year.  Stupid work rules have changed and the unions agreed to a haircut in 2011 to help the system.  It maintains a global leader in safety for both its workers and passengers. 

Today, the system struggles to create a new set of relationships with its riders and the legislature, which they can only get by renewing the covenant it had, sixty years ago, when it promised no more chaos and delivered reliable, affordable service to people living in Washington's inland sea.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'll Never Fall in Love Again

Why is it that just when you have put the Internet in its place as an exploitive, crass and dangerous landscape, something comes along that makes you start humming "I'll Never Fall in Love Again?" 

Three women are trying to keep the dog from our prosciutto and crab as they walk by on a barely discernable trail that skirts the pile of logs we had stopped at in the middle of the Skagit Delta on a luminescent afternoon.  The creature we now know as Sofia is nearly knocking over our just-opened bottle of expensive Sancerre as she jumps on top of one log and leaps into a stand of grass after a bit of bread we threw for her. 

This was hardly the place where you'd expect random company.  We were in the middle of a perfectly flat estuary, save for the dyke 1000 yards behind us and Hat Island, another thousand yards in front of us where a brackish Puget Sound, at slack tide, slopped along the edges of Skagit County and our picnic.

Now, they were returning.  "May we enter your, uh, uh, space?  I think it is in that log," said the oldest of the three, consulting a hand-held GPS device or a very smart phone. 

"Sure," we said, "though we'd like to be let in on the 'it' part."

"Oh, we're Geocachers," she said as the younger ones checked their GPS and honed in on one of the logs.  Soon she was reaching into a broken section of the log up to her shoulder and retrieving a small plastic container that contained a notepad, a small plastic figure of a man in shorts, a pencil and a few other items.  Soon those contents were joined by the cork of the Sancerre bottle with our names written on it, or, as the Cachers would say, 'the names of four Muggles encountered at the very end of the mission.'

The first cache was a black pail containing books, software, videos and a slingshot, hidden in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon in spring of 2000 and posted on a GPS enthusiast site.  Two days later, it had its first visitor.  Today, four million people are in search of 1.4 million geocaches world-wide.

As we spoke further with our new friends, we sensed the richness of their community, the basic enchantments of finding and sharing, a good day of travel and exercise, the array of information as they went home and posted their happy day. 

Cache sites in western Washington
For us, as we finished our second bottle, a nice little pinkie boy, we had that same feeling when we wrote 'symptoms of pneumonia' into this weird little site called Google and suddenly saw the world come roaring into our kitchen. 

Here's another one that stirs my heart. 

Driving back to work from lunch in Columbia City, I followed the Lake Washington shore to pass through my old neighborhood, Leschi.  As I pulled a bit further to the right to avoid a careless car in the on-coming lane, I noticed I was disturbingly close to a monster tree encroaching on Lake Washington Boulevard.  After I pulled over and checked it out, it was clearly a Redwood and it was truly a big one.  As I stood beside it, I imagined the war that would break out if the Seattle Transportation Department decided it was too big a hazard and would have to come down. I saw myself in my sleeping bag, surrounded by other Defenders of the Sequoia, waiting for the people who would do harm.

This had to be a famous tree, I thought, which is exactly what I entered in Google, along with the phrase, 'in Seattle.'  There appears then a fantastic website built and maintained by Arthur Lee Jacobson, and an article he had written with someone named Jerry Clark called "Pioneering Seattle's Historic Trees."  A 1989 gift to the state on its centennial, that article and many other subsequent pieces, tell us everything we would like to know about our city's lovely trees, and, incidentally, which to mourn. 

I went to 'Contact' and wrote Mr.  Jacobson about my experience with the tree and asked if he knew anything about it.  A couple of hours later, this was his reply:

Subject:  Re:  Leschi Tree

"It is a Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, and presumably planted at the time of the early boulevard landscaping some 100+ years ago.  About seven years ago it was 153 feet tall; now it is doubtless more than 160."

Arthur Lee Jacobson's site is the epitome of the 'long tail' of the Internet, that part of the space to the right of global media and global figures, ubiquitous products, popular and mainline interests.  While the left part of the metaphor may attract more eyeballs, the right side contains a variety of content and ideas that, while perhaps producing fewer hits, stimulates remarkable and sometimes beautiful content -- and, importantly it is usually more interactive.  You can, for example, join Arthur Lee Jacobson on a tree tour of a specific neighborhood or park.  Cost? Ten bucks.  When was the last time Justin Timberlake did anything for ten bucks?

So why were they landscaping along Lake Washington a hundred years ago, and why with a Sequoia sempervirens?  The answer is in Seattle's incredible desire to change the landforms that its citizens originally found.  Famously, it removed a very significant hill from North of the downtown core and put it out in Elliott Bay to create Harbor Island, the center of the Port of Seattle and for seventy years or so the largest man made island in the world.

Museum of History and Industry
Describing that landscape separates older Seattle people from younger ones.  The ones who saw the neighborhood get hip and house many thousands call it Belltown, after an original developer, Austin Bell.  The ones who watched the hill come down and be replaced by automobile dealer parking lots call it The Denny Regrade.

Among all the filling, shaping, sluicing and digging Seattle leaders loved, the canal project that connected Lake Washington to Lake Union and ultimately to Puget Sound had another powerful effect on the original landscape.  It lowered Lake Washington's water level nearly 9 feet.  This created a startling amount of land, most of it public.  The great parks developers of the time, the Olmsted brothers, had a hand in crafting what the new natural environment along the lake would look like.  Along their boulevard, Lake Washington Boulevard, they may have placed the occasional Sequoia, for its uniquely western look and notable size.

Meandering down to a narrowing region of the long tail to read more about the Lake Washington shore, I found artist Ellen Sollod and a beautiful and personal piece of research she did called "Lake Washington Palimpsest." 

Copyright Ellen Sollod
Ellen Sollod Studio
The term means something like replacing old writing with new -- by erasing or covering up -- it's a Greek word meaning scraped and cleaned off.  She applies this idea to Lake Washington and tries to find parts of the once prominent old shapes that were erased by the physical changes of its restless citizens.
It is a uniquely personal piece of work.  She's not sitting in front of a computer, but fundamentally in front of whatever she sees and reports.  She carries a pin hole camera and a bucket with chemicals to develop the images.  She goes to buildings housing records and maps, walks in, talks to someone -- say at the Corps of Engineers -- and asks to look at what they have about the lake.

Trying to find the Black River, the stream that originally fed Lake Washington before the change of elevation made it disappear, she walks into a scary trailer park near a swamp and identifies what is left of the Black River, an oozy swerve at the bottom of a ditch.

She is an artist whose history speaks with an earnest heart, one that captured mine.

  Geocaching website
Arthur Lee Jacobson's Website
Ellen Sollod's Lovely History of Lake Washington
HistoryLink: Ravenna Park Trees Cut Down By Parks Department, 1920
Lyrics to "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and Ringtone

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garbage Out

Twenty years ago, solid waste disposal in Washington state changed significantly when most communities purchased long term contracts for disposal from two fiercely competing companies that took the garbage by train to rural eastern Washington and Oregon.  Today, another garbage war is about to break out with more companies, less local ownership and some big questions for local governments hosting the landfills. 

The change was mostly good.  Pushed by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Acts of 1976 and 1992, local governments and the private sector created new, safer landfills and higher recycling rates.  They closed down and capped old leaky landfills on the wet, west side of the state in favor of new, highly engineered sites in the drier east side in a policy that provided significant environmental value. 

The timing was right politically as well.  Governor Christine Gregoire was ending her time as Director of the Department of Ecology and had participated in the formulation of the new laws and understood their implications and values. Her move to the Attorney General's office put her in a unique position to further the legal changes necessary to replace the old landfills and open big, well-lined landfills with collection and treatment of leachate and methane gas. 

Statistics from the 1999 Department of Ecology Annual Solid Waste Report show how, in just a few years, significant change happened to landfills taking household and commercial solid waste.

Ownership  Landfills           Waste (Tons)              % of Total
               1991 1998         1991              1998        1991   1998
Private        9      6      1,200,000     2,800,000        31      61
Public        36    16      2,700,000     1,780,000        69      39

Washington state Department of Ecology

Not only did the new legislation increase the private company role in waste disposal, it stirred the consolidation of the solid waste industry as giants like Waste Management first purchased local and regional companies and then their national and international competitors.

Rabanco, a company owned by the storied Razore family, was the clear winner against the giant Waste Management in Garbage War I, circa 1989-1995.  During that time, more than 20 municipal contracts in Washington state were let and Rabanco took nearly all of them, the only large exception was Seattle along with a couple of smaller municipals.  Publicly-owned Waste Management was playing to investors and its internal financial rules.  Rabanco's culture was simpler -- win.

After the contract fights were settled, consolidation in Washington state picked up steam.  The regional heirloom, Rabanco, was plucked by Allied Waste Industries in 1998 and, in 1999, Allied purchased the US assets of Browning Ferris, another long time solid waste brand.  Rabanco's Roosevelt Regional Landfill was very good to Rabanco and costly to Allied.  Before Roosevelt was operational, in 1990, Rabanco was valued at about $50 million.  Allied bought it eight years later for $400 million. 

In 2008, Allied itself was eaten by Florida's Republic Services, though the deal is characterized locally as a merger because of Republic's efforts to avoid contract rights held by Klickitat County, which hosts the Roosevelt Regional Landfill.  It's one of several indicators of a less than effective partnership.

Ron Mittelstaedt
California Polytechnic Institute
In the mid-nineties, an energetic Browning Ferris employee named Ron Mittelstaedt heard that the company was selling its assets in Oregon and Idaho and he organized a team and found money to buy them.  They included a weak competitor from Garbage War I, Finley Buttes Landfill, that served Clark County and a handful of other, smaller customers.  Waste Connections earned $13 million in his first year, 1997.  Quarterly revenue in first quarter 2011 was $333 million. 

Mittelstaedt then acquired a group of companies, in and around Tacoma and Pierce County that had been able to site a landfill in the eastern part of the county.  Pierce County had long resisted waste-by-rail because it wanted complete local control, though a handshake deal between Warren Razore and Harold LeMay, the principal partner in Murrey Collection and Land Resources Inc., sent some of Pierce County's garbage to Klickitat County. 

LeMay Museum

Harold's successful company, even before he sold it, allowed him to amass the largest collection of antique cars in the world and break ground on Tacoma's next attraction, America's Car Museum, which will put Tacoma's vaunted Museum of Glass to great shame. 

Two other landfills have the capability to compete for large, regional contracts that will come in Garbage War II -- Coffin Butte near Corvallis (Republic/Allied) and Simco Road in Mountain Home, Idaho (Idaho Waste Systems).  

So, the competitive atmosphere is way different today.  Five, arguably, six landfills have the capacity to take any waste stream generated in Washington state. Only one of them with the capacity and the will, Roosevelt Regional Landfill, operates in Washington state. The region is significantly over-capacity, and the fact that Seattle quietly extended its deal with Waste Management and its Columbia Ridge Landfill until 2028 means that there are just two markets with major league waste streams, Snohomish County and King County.   

King County has managed the million tons a year that go to its Cedar Hills landfill intensively, extending the landfill's life by several years.  However, the string is running out and its garbage will shortly start moving to the waste-by-rail system.  It has considered what it calls conversion technologies, a euphemism for burning garbage, but the cost of burning solid waste exceeds rail-served landfilling by $15-$30 dollars a ton and siting a burner is traditionally associated with great peril, if not low sperm counts in nearby men.   

Soon, King County plans to start rail hauling with about a tenth of its waste, 100,000 tons/year.  It labels this as an "experiment."  The bidding for that amount will be furious, with the expectation that subsequent King County contributions to the waste by rail system will naturally flow to the early winner.

The strongest competitor in the market is Waste Connections' Mittelstaedt.  He has been aggressive just as the Rabanco successors have been passive and out-maneuvered.  The acquisition of the LRI properties by Mittelstaedt gives him a tremendous logistical upside in west central counties like Thurston, Mason and Lewis.  In addition, he is benefitting from the deal offered by Pierce County to the local garbage handler LeMay.  The contract is about $5 dollars above market.  The LeMay assets were purchased just after the Pierce County contract was signed, so, Pierce County taxpayers are subsidizing Mittelstaedt's efforts elsewhere in the state, a nifty advantage.

Snohomish County, another big generator currently going to Allied/Republic's Roosevelt site, has its contract coming due.  Republic will try to extend the contract there, but extension comes with a cost, likely something like a price reduction of $5/ton, about what Waste Management accepted when Seattle extended its contract to 2028.  If Mittelstaedt is as aggressive now as he has been, he will go after both Snohomish and King County as hard as he knows. 

The big loser in this ploy is Klickitat County, home of Roosevelt Regional Landfill.  Each ton of garbage is worth about $3 bucks to the county and it has been getting about $8,000,000/year from these host county fees, about 20% or its total budget.  An ominous indicator of the Allied partnership with Klickitat County is the disappearance next year of 100,000 tons/year that stemmed from the Razore/LeMay handshake.  Allied never told Klickitat County it had raised no objections to the Pierce County contract provision that directed the tonnage would go to Waste Connections after 2012 and failed to mention the whole thing to the county.  That move cost Klickitat County $300,000/year.

If Allied/Republic loses out on King County and other waste streams now going to Klickitat County, the county's revenues will suffer considerable decline.  Replacement tonnage could come from special waste streams -- petroleum contaminated soils, dredge spoils, environmental clean-ups -- but Allied/Republic has not demonstrated the creativity it needs to compete in that sphere.  So, Allied/Republic is at risk of being second tier in the Northwest after it so recently entered the market.  

The company's only anchor waste stream is the solid waste that comes from Snohomish County.  If Allied/Republic can't compete in King County, and if Waste Connections decides to aggressively compete in Snohomish County and the many other counties that are part of the Razore legacy, then Klickitat County will be raising taxes as quickly as it lowered them when their landfill business started to cook in the early 90s.  It is quite possible that the industrious Mr.  Mittelstaedt will be surveying a Northwest landscape that is, for the most part, all his.