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E-M:/ a.g. rebuffs solid waste industry



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm has rejected claims by the
garbage industry that pro-recycling and other environmental protection
provisions of county solid waste plans are not lawful under the state's
solid waste management act.

Granholm's office responded to concerns raised by the Michigan Waste 
Industries Association (MWIA) regarding updated plans being prepared under
Part 115 of Michigan's natural resources and environmental protection act.
While the 8-page response is not considered to be a "formal opinion of the 
Attorney General," it supports the authority of counties and DEQ to promote
waste reduction and recycling through the planning process.

The question now is whether the industry will renew attempts it's made in
past years to get the Legislature to create a "free market" for trash and
undermine the authority of county plans.

MWIA had argued, "A county does not have unlimited authority to include
provisions in a solid waste management plan.  Rather, a county 
only has such powers that have been granted by the Michigan Legislature.
Although the Legislature authorized a county to prepare a solid waste
management plan under Part 115, a county may only include in the plan those
provisions that are expressly identified in part 115 or the Part 115 Rules."

MWIA questioned the inclusion in county plans of requirements for disposal
fees, operating criteria, mandated recycling, recycling data collection,
preservation of more than 10 years of capacity, volume restriction,
identification of specific disposal areas, restrictions on special wastes, 
enforcement by uncertified health departments, and transporter licensing.
MWIA also charged that provisions within solid waste plans are not
"severable" and thus, if one portion is not valid  then the whole plan is
subject to the formal amendment process  specified in Part 115 and the
rules. MWIA also separately raised constitutional issues regarding the
delegated authority of counties and takings issues. 

Granholm's office rejected all of these claims, saying:

"Nothing in Part 115 prohibits counties from imposing disposal fees..." 
 
Of mandated recycling, "Nothing in Part 115 appears to conflict with such a
mandate.  In fact Section 11539(1)(d) encourages counties to reduce and
recycle wastes." 

Of mandated data collection:  "Nothing in Part 115 precludes the counties
from mandating collection of this information..."
 
Of volume restrictions:  "Part 115 clearly contemplates limitations on the
amount and types of waste that can be accepted by a landfill... Counties
would not be able to ensure their future capacity if landfills could accept
unlimited amounts of wastes.." 

Of restrictions on special waste:  "A county can restrict the importation
of any out of county waste in order to meet its planning requirement under
Part 115.  Clearly, if a county can restrict all out of county wastes it
can restrict specific types of wastes in order to meet its planning
obligations under the Act." 

On transporter licenses:  "If such a licensing program is incorporated into
a plan and relied upon by counties to implement their plan, then MDEQ
requests or suggests that a county discuss the ordinance in the County
Plan.  Therefore, 
reference to such an ordinance is appropriate." 


Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
davemec@voyager.net
517-487-9539 
517-487-9541 (fax)
http://www.mienv.org

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