Solid Waste & Recycling


U.S. waste anti-import bill goes to full committee

The four Michigan Members of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Representative John D. Dingell (MI-15), Rep. Fred Upt...

The four Michigan Members of the Energy & Commerce Committee, Representative John D. Dingell (MI-15), Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06), Rep. Bart Stupak (MI-01) and Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-08), have witnessed passage of H.R. 2491, the International Solid Waste Importation and Management Act of 2005, out of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Waste.

The legislation, sponsored by Environment and Hazardous Waste Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gillmor (OH-5) and co-sponsored by the four Michigan Members, would address Michigan’s ongoing attempt to limit imported waste from Canada by requiring that the EPA implement and enforce the Bilateral Agreement both countries signed in 1992. Moreover, the legislation would give Michigan more authority to regulate foreign waste until EPA’s final regulations to implement and enforce the Agreement become effective.

Specifically, the bill would:

Require the Administrator of the EPA to implement and enforce the 1986 Agreement Concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste between the United States and Canada, which would require Canada to notify the U.S. before the shipment of waste to the U.S. within 24 months;

Require that when Canada notifies the U.S. of a shipment of waste, the EPA give considerable deference to the desire of the state and locality that will receive the waste as to whether to allow the shipment or not;

Require that EPA also consider the effect of importation on continued support for recycling programs, landfill capacity, air emissions from increased vehicular traffic, road deterioration from increased vehicular traffic, as well as the impact on homeland security, public health and the environment; and

Allow states to enact laws or issue regulations that are consistent with international trade obligations imposing limitations on the receipt and disposal of foreign municipal solid waste until EPA’s final regulations to implement and enforce the Agreement become effective. The state laws would stay in effect even after the EPA’s regulations are in place.

The four Michigan Members led a bipartisan effort in 2003 to secure one million dollars for the EPA to implement the 1986 bilateral agreement on the international shipment of garbage. To date the EPA has failed to enforce the existing rules and regulations from that agreement with Canada.

The bill will now move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee where the four Michigan Members are urging for a speedy passage and a vote on the legislation in the full House.

"I am pleased to be working with Congressman Gillmor and my Michigan colleagues on this very important piece of legislation," said Congressman Dingell (MI-15), the Ranking Member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. "This measure will give the people of Michigan the action that they are demanding on curbing the flow of trash that we neither want nor can handle. I know that Senators Stabenow and Levin will continue to wage this battle for the people of Michigan in the Senate and I urge Congress to move on the bill with deliberate speed and send it to the President’s desk to give Michigan the relief our great state needs."

"This has long been a priority of mine, and with our collaborative efforts we are that much closer to shutting our border to Canada’s garbage once and for all," said Congressman Upton. "This is about ensuring public safety and securing our borders we don’t want to take their garbage anymore, period."

"Now that this important legislation has been voted out of our Subcommittee it is my hope that we no longer have to stand at the border watching garbage truck after garbage truck drive Canada’s trash into Michigan. We’ve been waiting for 13 years and every year the EPA says it they will implement regulations ‘soon’. I don’t know what the EPA’s definition of ‘soon’ is but if we continue to wait for the EPA our grandchildren will still be complaining about trash" Congressman Stupak said. "Because of the leadership shown by the cosponsors of this bill, we at least have a fighting chance to limit the trash coming into our landfills. I strongly urge the full Energy and Commerce Committee to pass this bill and for the House Leadership to bring it to the floor for a vote."

"After fighting for years to end Michigan’s trash nightmare, at last we are moving toward a real solution," said Congressman Rogers. "With this positive step, we are targeting major border security and environmental problems that currently threaten the health and safety of our state and the nation."

Senators Stabenow and Levin are introducing the companion bill in the Senate.

Additional Background

In 1986, the United States entered into an agreement with Canada on the shipment of transboundary waste. The agreement was amended in 1992 to include municipal solid waste. The agreement requires the Canadian environmental department to notify the EPA for each shipment of waste enters the United States. The EPA then has 30 days to object to the shipment or accept it.

Instead, the EPA has stood by as more than 415 trash trucks have crossed into Michigan on a daily basis, the EPA refuses to answer Congressional inquiries on this issue. Over the last several years, the Michigan Congressional Delegation has urged EPA to implement the agreement and Reps. Dingell, Rogers, Stupak and Upton have amended EPA’s budget to provide $1-million in funding to do so. Nonetheless, to date, the EPA has taken little action to move forward on the agreement.

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