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Michigan imports more waste from Canada and elsewhere

Waste from Canada and other states now account for nearly one-quarter of all the trash dumped in Michigan's landfil...


Waste from Canada and other states now account for nearly one-quarter of all the trash dumped in Michigan’s landfills, according to a report released Monday by the Department of Environmental Quality. Waste from Canada alone, mostly from the Toronto area, comprises some 15 percent of the total dumped in state sites.

Looking at waste brought to state landfills from September 2002 to September 2003, the report shows a modest increase in the total dumped by Michigan residents-up by 2 percent-while trash from out of state sources was up by some 35 percent.

Critics charged that the numbers showed the need for the Legislature to pass bills that could help put greater controls on trash coming into the state. A spokesperson for the waste industry said that the increases were forecast, but that the level of waste coming from outside of Michigan should begin to level off and decline in a few years.

The total cubic yards dumped in Michigan landfills was 62.6 million, up from 57.5 million cubic yards in 2002.

Canadian trash totals increased from 6.6 million cubic yards to 9.4 million cubic yards. Canadian trash increased in part because of a new hauling contract and because no new landfill space in the Toronto area has been authorized. Toronto has set municipal goals to boost overall recycling by Canada’s largest city.

While Canadian trash increased by nearly 30 percent, in percentage terms of trash from some states increased by much more. Connecticut, for example, went from shipping 702 cubic yards in 2002 to more than 200,000 cubic yards in 2003.

Michigan residents and businesses accounted for 47.1 million cubic yards of trash dumped during 2003.

In releasing the report, Governor Jennifer Granholm repeated the call she made last week in her State of the State address for the Legislature to send her bills that would put greater controls on the industry.

House Democrats seized on the report, slamming GOP leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature for not sending bills that are designed to slow the flow of out-of-state waste into Michigan. Most of the bills are awaiting final passage in the Senate, but a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R-Wyoming) said the Senate will not vote until two bills arrive from the House.

“I think it’s orchestrated, quite frankly,” said House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum (D-Onondaga). “I think it is an intent to put a good face on that we’re doing something, but yet nothing gets to the governor’s desk.”

Ms. Byrum said the public “is not going to be fooled,” and it is time to send the bills to Ms. Granholm.

Bills are both in the House and Senate, and Bill Nowling, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R-Wyoming), said that once the House sends SB 497 and SB 498 back to the Senate, then the Senate will act on bills like HB 5234 and HB 5235.

Matt Resch, spokesperson for House Speaker Rick Johnson (R-LeRoy), refuted Ms. Byrum’s charge that Republicans are trying to find cover by passing bills without actually sending them to Ms. Granholm. He said SB 497 and SB 498 are on the House floor and “could come up at any point.” In December, when the House passed the main pieces of the legislative package, Republicans wanted to pass the major bills while getting to “peripheral” ones later.

Having the House and Senate pass each chamber’s respective legislation while waiting on certain pieces of an overall package is standard procedure and not part of an elaborate plan to stall the legislation, Mr. Resch said.

“That’s the way the process works,” he said. “To suggest otherwise would mean they’re in this only for political point-scoring and have no interest in sound policy.”

Adapted from Gongwer News Service


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