Senate Passes Waste Restrictions

March 3, 2004
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LANSING — The Michigan Senate yesterday passed sweeping restrictions on the importation of Canadian and out-of-state waste, set a two-year moratorium on new landfills and gave broader authority to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to enforce these tougher garbage standards.

“These new restrictions are designed directly to protect Michigan’s environment and its citizens, not discriminate against interstate commerce,” said Majority Leader Ken Sikkema. “These restrictions will stand up in court. It only makes sense that Canadian and out-of-state waste meets the same standards we require of our own.”

Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck and chairwoman of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, said the legislative package represents a bi-partisan effort to limit the importation of Canadian and out-of-state waste, which accounts for approximately 25 percent of all trash entering Michigan landfills.

“Non-Michigan trash isn’t always as environmentally safe as it should be. Sending this legislation to the governor shows our commitment to protecting Michigan,” she said.

Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said the package provides a comprehensive revision of the state’s solid-waste management laws to include additional protections against the disposal of inappropriate waste in Michigan’s landfills. The legislation requires all Canadian and out-of-state waste to meet the same stringent standards Michigan has for its own waste. Landfills would be required to refuse any out-of-state waste that did not meet the tough standards.

The bills:

  • Require the state DEQ to provide a statewide inspection program, which would mandate at least four inspections each year of each landfill to ensure compliance. Random inspections also could be conducted to help ensure compliance.

  • Require landfills beginning Oct. 1 to refuse waste, regardless of its source, that did not meet Michigan standards.

  • Add two important new landfill bans — beverage containers and whole tires — to further reduce reliance on landfills and encourage recycling.

  • Grant the DEQ director emergency power to prohibit any waste shipment that poses a threat to the public’s health or safety or to the safety of the environment.

  • Add new fines of up to $25,000 per day for violating certain laws related to disposing of waste in landfills.

  • Mandate a two-year moratorium on issuing certain new landfill permits.

“Michigan treats everyone else’s garbage less stringently than our own and today this practice stops,” Sikkema said. “Applying our standards to every single piece of trash that comes into our state will allow us to protect our environment and keep our residents safe.”

Nine of the 11 bills now go to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for signing. SB 498 and HB 5235 have been sent back to the House for concurrence.       

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