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Great Lakes Article:

Trash-banning laws may face legal battle
By Marty Niedbala
Royal Oak Daily Tribune
03/09/04



Waste not. Want not. The author of that proverb would be proud of Michigan legislators for passing bills that will restrict out-of-state and Canadian trash from being dumped here.

The state is barred from banning out-of-state trash due to a commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution. But House Bills 4098 and 4099 put stricter requirements on the trash that crosses the state's borders.

State Rep. Dave Woodward, D-Royal Oak, said the impetus for the bills was to reduce the incentive to import garbage into Michigan.

"We don't want the Great Lakes State to become the Great Waste State," said Woodward Thursday during a public forum on environmental issues in Royal Oak. He noted Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said she will sign the bills into law.

According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, waste from other states increased by 35 percent last year, while Canadian trash went up 43 percent.

Woodward said there are many reasons why Michigan is such a trash magnet.

"Canadian trash laws are very strict. It's cheaper for them and other states to dump their trash here," Woodward said. "Also, we have the highest (truck) weight limits in the country."

This also sounds the bell for the waste industry in the state to begin a legal front against the bills. Woodward said those who run landfills and trash haulers fought hard to stop the legislation and are expected to sue the state to stop its implementation.

"We've been threatened with lawsuits by those in the waste industry," Woodward said. "We believe we stand on strong constitutional ground.

"These bills are not restricting trucks for carrying on commerce. To put the trash into the ground, the firms need to meet our requirements."

HB 4098 rejects out-of-state trash that does not meet the state standards for items like batteries and motor oil. HB 4099 adds returnable containers that are covered under Michigan's bottle deposit law.


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