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Thursday, August 31, 2006 Cyndi Roper
Brad van Guilder
Stabenow Trash Deal A Big Michigan Win
State lawmakers should now act on dumping charge, landfill bill
LANSING, MI--Clean Water Action and the Ecology Center hailed today’s agreement with Canadian officials on imported trash as a major breakthrough that would significantly reduce the amount of out-of-state waste going to Michigan’s landfills.
“Senator Stabenow deserves tremendous credit for her leadership in using the hammer of economics to put a lid on Canadian trash imports,” said Cyndi Roper, Great Lakes Policy Director for Clean Water Action. “Now we need to get the Michigan Legislature to use the same approach with other out-of-state trash and adopt market-rate dumping charges that ends cheap trash imports to Michigan altogether.”
Last year, 6.2 million tons of trash was imported to Michigan from Canada and other states. The Stabenow-Canada agreement is expected to impact a majority of the 3.6 million tons of trash coming to Michigan from that country.
Clean Water Action has been campaigning door-to-door in Michigan since early this year in an effort to build support for pressuring public officials to curb out-of-state trash. More than 12,000 letters to elected officials from the organization’s members urged action on the trash issue. That campaign is targeted toward ending Michigan’s status as a cheap place to dump trash by establishing market-rate fees for waste haulers who now pay just .21 cents a ton to dump their trash in a Michigan landfill. A proposal by Democratic lawmakers, supported by Clean Water Action, would increase those dumping charges to $7.50.
“Huge landfill expansions granted by the Engler administration in the early 1990’s such as the nearly 600% increase in the Carleton Farms landfill in 1994 helped make discount dumping possible in Michigan,” said Brad van Guilder, Community Organizer for the Ecology Center. “Local governments can improve solid waste planning if we limit landfill expansions to match local needs.” A reinstatement of a moratorium on new and expanded landfills in Michigan is also being proposed and is supported by Clean Water Action, but Republican leaders have refused to allow a vote on the measure in either the state House or Senate.
Pennsylvania slashed its trash imports in 2005, the fourth straight year of less imported trash since 2002, when the Keystone State raised its dumping charge to $7.25 a ton. Though still the nation’s No. 1 trash importer, Pennsylvania’s high dumping charge is helping the state cut Canadian and out-of-state garbage from 12.6 million tons in 2001 to 9.65 million tons in 2005, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said in May.
“With Canada moving out of the trash export business, we now need to prevent other out-of-state waste haulers who make up half of our trash imports from filling up our landfills,” said Roper. “It’s clear that using economic incentives to curb trash imports and to improve recycling is a winning formula. We call on Republican leaders who are in the majority in the Michigan Legislature to act now to increase the dumping charge for waste haulers so Michigan is not longer a cheap place to dump.”