From: Ken Thomas, Associated Press
Published September 7, 2006 12:00 AM

House Approves Bill Giving States Power to Regulate International Trash

WASHINGTON — States would be able to regulate trash from Canada and other nations under a bill approved by the House after Michigan lawmakers complained about foreign waste in their landfills.

The legislation approved Wednesday would give states more power to limit the shipment and dumping of international municipal solid waste until the Environmental Protection Agency issues regulations on trash from Canada.

Michigan residents have criticized the dumping of Canadian and other out-of-state trash in their landfills for more than a decade, saying it clogs up landfills and fills roadways with trash trucks while posing security risks because of the challenges of screening the trash.

The state receives nearly 4 million metric tons of Canadian trash each year -- about 350 truckloads a day -- while another 300,000 metric tons of the Canadian garbage enters Washington state and New York annually.

"Good neighbors don't take their trash and throw it in another person's yard," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. The measure passed on a voice vote.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., signed legislation in March that would ban the foreign trash, but the state needs authority from Congress.

Waste management is a $1 billion industry in Ontario, according to the Ontario Waste Management Association. Rob Cook, the group's president, said if the bill were enacted it would force the province into "crisis management."

Ontario would need to consider rapid approval for new disposal sites, a process that normally takes more than five years, Cook said. He predicted the law would lead to significant legal battles and challenges on whether it violates trade laws.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Marc Morano, a spokesman for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Wednesday the committee is not planning to consider a version before the end of the year.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., announced an agreement last week with Ontario to phase out shipments of municipal trash from Toronto and other communities in the province into Michigan by 2010.

Their deal would not cover industrial and commercial waste, which represents more than half of the Canadian trash entering Michigan each year, Ontario officials said. The House version would cover nearly all the waste exported into Michigan.

As part of the deal, Levin and Stabenow agreed not pursue legislation that would assess $420 in fees per truck on Canadian companies that haul trash into state landfills to pay for security inspections.

The fees, which could cost the companies millions of dollars, were approved in a Senate budget bill awaiting passage from Congress. Levin and Stabenow said they would push for the fees if the Canadians renege on the deal during the next four years.

Republicans countered that the deal is nonbinding and noted it would still allow a significant amount of trash to enter the state's borders.

Source: Associated Press

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