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E-M:/ Serious question re landfills and imported trash



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Enviro-Mich message from jmgear <jmgear@acd.net>
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If I can, I'd like to ask either a serious (or a seriously stupid question) and get some responses from people here:

What exactly is wrong with importing trash into Michigan?

We (Michiganders) don't seem to be "against" trash in any sense of the word that I can see -- we produce endless tons of it and have weak recycling programs and declining participation in those. We have no laws that require manufacturers to minimize waste or to accept responsibilty for dealing with discarded packaging or products they send to others. Our stores are filled to the rafters and beyond with intentionally disposable products, including many with heavy metal content and other toxins ("technical materials" in the worlds of the "cradle to cradle" guys); many of us buy those products, such as the computers used to read this. Every day our rivers and streams receive copious volumes of wastes washed off of impermeable surfaces (oil, gas, chemicals) and we can't even remove all the pharmaceuticals and chemicals we pour into them from our "sanitary" systems.

Of the three places where waste/pollution can go (land, air, water), the one that seems least constrained (furthest from any sort of natural limit, beyond which the sink fails to function) is land.

On the other hand, Michigan exports many, many, many tons of airborne wastes, including mercury that pollutes the foodchain, from powerplant stacks. As the state that, until recently, built more cars than anyone else, we are probably more responsible for destabilizing the climate and for promoting carburban sprawl than any other group of people in the world.

Is the issue that solid waste is just so darn visible, while CO2 and airborne mercury (which enters watersheds) are not?
Or is the issue that Canadian trash is not "our" trash, or that it's somehow more toxic, more dangerous? Or is it that we believe that one group of people should not be allowed to export their wastes at all? Or is it just that WE shouldn't accept other peoples' wastes? Or is waste from Ohio and Indiana and Illinois OK, but not waste from Toronto?
Or is landfill space actually in much tighter supply than it appears? (Lord knows I'd rather be near a landfill than a CAFO.)
Or is it just that we don't get enough $$ in return (hence, the proposal to raise the tipping fee).


I must admit that, at times, it seems to me that the only reason people want me to get excited about Canadian trash is that it's the ONLY issue that "environmentalists" have found that gets "regular folks" upset and yet doesn't ask those same "regular folks" to do anything differently.
Thus, people in Michigan opposing Canadian trash imports get to feel like they are fighting for the environment without asking anyone here to stop having kids or to drive less, consume less, waste less, etc.


So, boiled down, I guess another way to ask the question is this:
Why should Canadian trash imports even be in the top 20 Michigan environmental concerns I should care about?


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