Well, 2008 has come and gone. But the arrival of 2009 seems like more than just the beginning of a new year. It feels like the start of a new era.

With this month's inauguration of President Barack Obama, the federal government will hopefully begin tackling in earnest the many problems facing this country — from the collapsing economy to an inadequate health care system to the ever-growing threats presented by global warming.

And what does this new era mean for the solid waste industry? To the casual observer at least, it may not mean a whole lot. You will continue to see plenty of garbage trucks on the street. After all, despite the recession, people will still generate trash. Perhaps the amount of waste produced by commercial properties and construction and demolition sites will decrease, but, overall, haulers should have plenty of material to handle.

But legislation addressing climate change and alternative sources of energy could have a noticeable impact on the solid waste sector. For instance, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could necessitate the use of alternative fuels in some fleets. Also, federally mandated use of alternative sources of energy could create great opportunities for landfill owners and operators to capture and sell methane gas from their sites to create electricity.

Whatever the Obama administration's impact — direct or indirect — on the solid waste industry, Waste Age and WasteAge.com are committed to providing complete coverage and analysis of the effects. In this month's Tip Off section, Associate Editor Chris Carlson talks with several industry leaders to get their early take on what the new president may mean for the industry (see "Enter Obama"), and columnist Chaz Miller offers up his legislative predictions for the year (see "Sanitation Prognostication").

In the upcoming February issue, we will examine what landfill operators need to do and consider before they build a landfill gas-to-energy project. Then in our March issue, Fleet Owner Senior Editor Sean Kilcarr will explore which alternative fuels the Obama administration and the new Congress are likely to push.

The upcoming months and years should be interesting times indeed for our nation and the waste industry. Waste Age is ready to help you navigate the road ahead.