Michigan lawmaker demands enforcement
of Canadian trash treaty
Detroit Free Press
A Michigan congressman wants the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to prove it's complying with a bill that requires
the agency to spend $1 million on enforcement of a Canadian
Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, Mich., on
Wednesday released a letter that he sent last week to
EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. Dingell reminded Leavitt
about the provision in the funding bill, which President
Bush signed in January, and asked him for a detailed account
of how the $1 million is being spent.
An EPA spokesman said Wednesday that the agency will
follow the law, but wouldn't elaborate. The agency is
working on a response to Dingell's letter.
Dingell says a 1992 treaty requires Canada to notify
the EPA for each shipment of waste entering the United
States. The EPA has 30 days to consider how the shipment
will impact the state and then accept or reject the shipment.
Dingell and three other Michigan lawmakers -- Democratic
Rep. Bart Stupak and Republican Reps. Mike Rogers and
Fred Upton -- amended the EPA's 2004 budget last fall
after the agency's director of solid waste, Robert Springer,
told a House subcommittee that the EPA had taken no action
to enforce the treaty.
"It is simply outrageous that the United States
signed this agreement more than 11 years ago and nothing
has been done to implement the notice and consent provisions
laid out in a very clear manner in the agreement,"
Although the provision wouldn't halt shipments of trash
into Michigan, it could slow them by forcing shippers
to deal with regulatory hurdles. Michigan now is getting
about 200 truckloads of solid waste each day from Canada.
Dingell said half of it is dumped in his district.
The House has not yet considered two other measures that
would halt Canadian trash shipments. One bill, sponsored
by Rogers, would ban Canadian trash shipments but not
shipments from other states, in an effort to appease trash
exporting states such as New York. Another bill, sponsored
by Rep. Jim Greenwood, R-Pa., would give states more authority
to control trash.
Earlier this month, state lawmakers passed a package
of bills that would put a two-year moratorium on new landfills