Hearings on imported trash begin tomorrow May 21st (Wed) 6:30pm at Oakland University – Business & Technology Building, Rochester, MI
Don’t Trash Michigan
News Release More Information:
Tuesday, May 20, 2003 Mike Garfield 734-663-2400 #104
James Clift 517-487-9539
BIPARTISANSHIP ON TRASH
Don’t Trash Michigan Offers Praise as Leaders Emerge
Coalition Presents Solution to Imported Trash Problem
Lansing – On the eve of public hearings on Michigan’s imported trash problem, Don’t Trash Michigan, a coalition of more than 24 organizations in Michigan offered praise to a set of courageous lawmakers who have taken the first steps in a bipartisan approach to solving the imported trash problem and challenged the full legislature to follow-suit. The group laid out a two-part approach to what it considers to be a solution to the out-of-state waste problem and called on Lansing to adopt its proposals.
“What we are seeing is the courageous first steps of a handful of lawmakers who are putting solving a serious problem ahead of partisanship and the special interests,” said James Clift, Policy Director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “But by no means are we out of the woods. All 110 Representatives and 38 Senators need to follow suit.”
Reps. Ruth Johnson R-Holly, Paul Gieleghem D-Mt. Clemens, and Jerry Kooiman R-Grand Rapids were singled out for praise. Don’t Trash Michigan applauded Ruth Johnson for reaching out to Paul Gieleghem who had been a leader on the issue, by asking for his endorsement of innovative legislation that would stop out-of-state waste that doesn’t meet Michigan standards. The Holly legislator was also praised for scheduling hearings at times and locations friendly for public participation. “Ruth Johnson is showing real leadership by reaching across the aisle and bringing in Democrats who have worked on this issue,” said Clift. “She deserves a lot of credit for and praise for developing an effective and bipartisan approach to the problem.”
Rep. Gieleghem was credited for endorsing Johnson and his early leadership on the issue. He was praised for leading a public education effort that involved town hall meetings around Michigan to engage and inform the public about solutions to Canadian and out-of-state waste.
Rep. Kooiman was praised for his early endorsement of both the Gieleghem and Johnson legislation to ban out-of-state waste that fails to meet Michigan’s health and environmental standards. Kooiman also introduced “Dumping Fee” legislation sought by Don’t Trash Michigan, a pillar of their program to stop imported waste.
“Johnson, Gieleghem and Kooiman may very well be the beginnings of a ‘McCain Feingold’ of Michigan Trash,” said Mike Garfield, Director of the Ecology Center. “But this precious beginning will surely meet intense resistance from the waste industry and those beholden to them.”
Michigan Senators also received praise from Don’t Trash Michigan. Four of the bills SB’s 497-500, introduced by Sens. Birkholtz, Thomas, Sandborn and Olshove are the same as Johnson’s HB’s 4689-4692. SB 502 by Sen. Cassis and Sen. Brater’s SB 98 are the same as Gieleghem’s 4098.
Solving Out-of-State and Canadian Waste
To solve the imported trash problem, the group challenged lawmakers to adopt two sets of policies reflected in the Johnson, Gieleghem and Kooiman approaches.
– Rep. Jerry Kooiman introduced legislation (HB 4152) which would place a
per ton fee on the dumping of solid waste in Michigan. One reason Michigan
is such an attractive dumping ground is that it’s cheap. Other
states charge a per ton surcharge to make their states less attractive dumping
grounds for imported garbage and to fund local recycling programs. Michigan
does not charge a fee, making it cost-effective for places like Toronto, Indiana,
New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois and others to dump their garbage here. Kooiman’s
of Grand Rapids has introduced legislation that would charge a $3 per ton fee.
Standards Based Ban – Rep. Ruth Johnson and Paul Gieleghem have introduced legislation HB 4686 by Johnson and HB 4098 to prohibit waste from Canada and other States that fail to meet Michigan’s public health protections and environmental standards. For instance, Michigan recycles used motor oil and car batteries because of the contamination dangers posed to groundwater and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Michigan also recycles pop cans and bottles out of a sense of stewardship and responsibility. These efforts are undermined when others are allowed to import waste loaded with these items into our landfills.
“These approaches must be taken together,” said Garfield. “Separately they are but half measures, and half measures won’t solve the problem or make the issue go away.”
Don’t Trash Michigan promised to continue to encourage lawmakers to build bipartisanship to solve the problem, but warned those who would put the waste industry ahead of Michigan’s environment. “Over 80% of the public supports strong measures to stop Michigan from continuing to be the region’s dumping ground,” said Garfield. “This is a stronger showing than opposition to Great Lakes oil drilling. Legislators should listen.”
Don’t Trash Michigan is a coalition of over 24 organizations dedicated to solving the out-of-state and Canadian waste problem in Michigan. The coalition is made up of environmental groups, labor union locals, women’s organizations and faith organizations.
109 East Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906