Kern County Environmental Health conducted a public information meeting on Nov. 20 to discuss a plan by Lehigh Southwest Cement to begin burning trash at its facility, reported the Tehachapi News. The proposed plan, which requires a permit from Kern County, Calif., would allow Lehigh to import pre-screened and processed solid waste to its facility.

Burning of solid waste would replace a portion of the current fossil fuels the company uses to make cement, with residual ash going into the final product. According to Kern County Environmental Health, the new process is a beneficial means of recycling trash and reducing the company's use of fossil fuels like natural gas, petroleum and coal.

Craig Mifflin, Lehigh's environmental and public affair's manager, said it has always been Lehigh’s desire to utilize Kern County waste as the main source for the engineered municipal solid waste fuel. Numerous discussions have taken place both private and public agencies that process municipal waste.

“To date, none of these entities has committed to make the sizable investment required to purchase, install and operate an EMSW [engineered municipal solid waste] processing facility,” Mifflin said. “We are hopeful that at some point, Kern County or a local private business will partner with us, making this a true win-win for Kern County residents and Lehigh.” Meanwhile, he said the only facility capable of producing the fuel is located in Sun Valley, a Los Angeles neighborhood.

“Lehigh is hopeful that they will be able to complete this long and arduous permitting journey soon so that they can begin utilizing this beneficial use fuel which will reduce greenhouse gasses, various other pollutants while at the same time improve the sustainability of Lehigh Southwest Cement,” Mifflin said.

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