DENR Backs More State Control of Landfills

We are currently under a year-long moratorium on new landfills in our state that was initiated in the last general assembly. This leaves collecting information on landfills and and passing meaningful legislation on the matter one of the biggest tasks facing this session of the general assembly.

Two major problems with the way landfill siting has occured is that localities are given exclusive control and there is no statewide fee for dumping trash at a landfill like there is in almost all other states. These two factors combined to make poor rural counties targets for large, environmentally hazardous landfills. Some of my past posts on landfills can be found here.

Yesterday, DENR came out in favor of two reforms that would significantly reduce the potential for North Carolina's rural areas ending up a magnet for out of state trash: 1) initiating a tipping fee and 2) having the State take more control of the approval process for the landfills. From WRAL:

Smith suggested the state should be more involved in the approval process for big landfills.

"Many large landfills have impacts that extend beyond the service area of the local government," Smith said. "For very large landfills with the potential for regional or statewide impacts, we need to look at requiring statewide franchises."

Smith also said a statewide "tipping" fee on garbage placed into landfills is needed, with proceeds going to clean up hundreds of dumps built before the state began permitting landfills.

Now is a critical time in protecting our environment; hopefully the general assembly will pass meaningful legislation to control the growth of landfills in our state.

Comments

Great news!

I know it's tough on some of these communities that have had major revenue sources leave town to take advantage of cheap labor in other countries. I don't think the answer is becoming a "trash town" though. Glad you're staying on top of this. It slipped under my radar.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

Community meeting tomorrow

The leading statewide conservation groups working on the landfill issue are hosting a community forum in Kinston tomorrow. TarGator is correct that this will be a big issue at the General Assembly this year. It's an issue worth watching closely since the landfill operators originally opposed the moratorium and this week told the Environmental Review Commission that they would oppose a surcharge on waste disposal, one of the key provisions that will be required to effectively deal with this issue.

From the News & Observer on January 18:

Smith said a statewide surcharge on garbage sent to landfills was needed, and the money should pay for cleaning up contamination at abandoned dumps. Thirty-one states have surcharges.

Last year the Easley administration proposed a $2 per ton surcharge that would generate an estimated $22 million a year. Nearby states have fees ranging from 65 cents per ton in Georgia to $1.75 a ton in Kentucky and $8.75 in West Virginia. South Carolina, Virginia and Florida have no fees.

David Barnes, a lawyer representing the Carolinas chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association, an industry group, said solid-waste companies objected to the existing moratorium but wanted to be involved in developing new regulations.

Barnes said the state's current regulations work well and protect the public and the environment. He said the industry objects to a surcharge on garbage collection.

Here are the details on tomorrow's community forum, from the NC Conservation Network's website (one of the hosts):

A coalition of state-wide environmental and environmental justice groups, including the NC Conservation Network, would like to welcome you to an informational gathering on Saturday, January 20 to get you up to speed on what has been going on since the moratorium was passed in late July 2006. Committees have been meeting and decisions are being made and you should know how it will affect your work and your community. In addition, state-wide organizations will be asking for your help in the 2007 long session to ensure that we stop these megadumps from coming into our communities permanently.

For more details visit: http://www.ncconservationnetwork.org/events/ncconnetevent.2006-12-20.8147504341

landfill operators

In watching this play out, it's important to understand that there are two different sets of landfill owner/operators, the publics and the privates. The privates and their attorney made the presentation last week at the ERC. In many ways their interests align with the publics, but not in all ways. The privates are mostly represented by NASWMA, www.nswma.org/ . The publics are collected in SWANA, www.swana.org, which has state chapters. One important way in which their interests differ is that the privates are more willing to entertain high capital costs (i.e. more technical requirements for landfills) since that drives the industry further to large regional (global?) landfills that can recoup the costs via better economies of scale. Among the many dances of legislation that go on at the legislature, this is one of the most complicated--sort of a group tango, if you will.