ZWA Reports: Pennsylvania Legislators Want A Plan And A Ban
July 15, 1998 - Zero Waste America (ZWA) reports that a vanguard of Pennsylvania legislators appear determined to control waste imports, as the state's Governor Tom Ridge waits in vain for Congressional action.
State Rep. Mark McNaughton has proposed legislation, House Bill 2512, calling for a moratorium on issuing permits for new waste disposal facilities or their expansions until the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has "developed, implemented and received Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for a State Solid Waste Plan as required by the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act."
Rep. McNaughton and Rep. David Steil, along with other Pennsylvania legislators, are also planning to submit legislation that will invoke a Waste Disposal Ban on yardwaste. If passed, the Yardwaste Disposal Ban will be the first comprehensive ban in Pennsylvania. Current state recycling mandates do not apply to municipalities with populations exceeding 5,000.
"Reps. McNaughton and Steil are headed in the right direction. Act 101 and the DEP's myriad of regulations and voluntary programs do not constitute a waste management plan, in compliance with RCRA requirements. Furthermore, waste Disposal Bans are the key to controlling waste imports," said Lynn Landes, founder of ZWA and a former member of DEP's Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
On the issue of Disposal Bans, Landes points to the Federal Court of Appeal, 7th Circuit (Aug 1995) in National Solid Waste Association v. Meyer (representing Wisconsin). Although the court ruled against Wisconsin's attempt to limit waste imports, it suggested an alternative strategy. The court indicated that although states cannot discriminate against out-of-state garbage, states can control waste imports through the implementation of non-descriminatory regulations, such as comprehensive Disposal Bans.
In a May 6, 1998 DEP publication, Update, Governor Tom Ridge insisted that states cannot control imported waste without Congressional action. "A string of legal decisions from 1978 to the early 90s has made it clear that nothing short of congressional action is going to give states the ability to control imported waste," Gov. Ridge said.
ZWA s Landes disagrees with Gov.Ridge's assessment. She points out that these court decisions only apply to descriminatory and protectionist behavior by the states, but do not preclude steps to ensure environmental protection regarding the disposal of waste.