SCAPCA raising air pollution fees

About 600 Spokane County businesses will pay higher fees next year for emitting air pollution.

The Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority board unanimously approved the increases Thursday. The pollution authority requires a variety of businesses to pay annual registration fees.

Businesses pay a base amount, plus a price for each ton of pollution they emit each year and a fee for each emission point or smokestack.

Under the old system, base rates were $160 or $215 depending on how much pollution a business released into the air. The new base rate for all operations will be $165.

The increases mostly come from emissions fees, which will increase to $45 per ton of pollution released each year. That’s up from $20 a ton. The cost for each emission point or smokestack will rise to $50 from $20.

“There’s an incentive to decrease emissions, which is what a regulation should do,” said SCAPCA board member Jeff Corkill said.

Another change will force gas stations to pay emission and emission point fees. Under the old system, they only had to pay a base rate of $165.

The agency, which hasn’t increased the rates since 1997, has been collecting about $100,000 less in fees than it costs to administer the program.


Refco has cash to pay creditors

Refco Inc. has $3.65 billion in cash that could be available for distribution to creditors if the company wins court authorization for its bankruptcy-reorganization plan, new documents show.

The documents were filed with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan late Thursday as the company prepared for a Dec. 15 hearing on its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. Refco has said it expects to exit bankruptcy proceedings by the end of the month if the plan is approved.

The documents also show that Refco, which crashed into bankruptcy amid a corporate-fraud scandal in October 2005, has paid about $180 million so far to the lawyers, restructuring consultants and other professionals hired to help with the bankruptcy case.

Refco, once one of the country’s biggest commodity brokerages, collapsed amid allegations that its chief executive hid $430 million in bad debt.

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