Friday, September 01, 2006

Agreement on Canadian Trash? Not so fast.

Supposedly, "Dangerously Incompetent" Debbie Stabenow(Passed one law in 10 years) and Carl Levin made a deal with Ontario halting Canadian Trash shipments to Michigan by 2010.

From the Detroit News

However, the Associated Press reported that Ontario officials estimate that the non-municipal waste not covered by the deal -- industrial and commercial waste and refuse generated at construction sites --accounts for more than half of the nearly 4 million metric tons of Canadian trash entering Michigan annually.

Levin said he believes the amount of such non-municipal waste is actually smaller. The senator's press office said a final figure on how much industrial-type trash will still enter the state's landfills will be clarified later.

The deal sets a clear timetable and commitment to stop municipal trash shipments. But even before mounting pressure in Congress and the Michigan legislature, Toronto officials had said they hoped to end their shipments by 2010.

Under the deal, Ontario is to reduce its municipal trash shipments by 20 percent by Dec. 31, 2007. Then, by the following year, it must reduce an additional 20 percent. All the municipal trash hauling would end Dec. 31, 2010. The timetable was based on when contracts were due to expire for the trash being hauled from Ontario municipalities

This only covers municipal wastes from Toronto. The one really doing real work on this is Mike Rogers. When Stabenow talked, he acted.

The bill that is scheduled to be voted on in the U.S. House Wednesday -- which is co-authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, and John Dingell, D-Dearborn -- would give states authority over trash imported from foreign countries and require the U.S. government to make Canada notify it each time it sends in a trash truck.

Stabenow and Levin introduced a similar bill, but its chances of Senate are considered slim.

"We don't think this agreement is legally binding," said Sylvia Warner, press secretary to Rogers. "And we think it's more important that the people of Michigan are the ones making the decisions about their own landfill."

Meanwhile, Republican Mike Bouchard, who is challenging the freshman Stabenow in the November elections, dismissed the deal as "an election year promise from a Canadian bureaucrat."

Environmental ministry spokeswoman Kate Jordan said the deal was prompted by fears that if the Rogers-Dingell bill became law, Michigan could stop all trash shipments within 90 days.

"Our garbage trucks could have been turned back from the border as early as January 2007," said Jordan. "We needed to find a solution to avert that."


Keith Richards said...

The real crux of the problem is that Michigan has lax requirements for opening up new landfills, unlike neighboring states and Canada. The result is that Michigan has become the regions largest trash importer because everyone else would rather send their trash to Michigan than open up landfills in their own backyards.

Gee, I wonder why.

It is ironic that Michigan, a piece of land surrounded by the worlds largest supply of clean and fresh water, is becoming the favorite trash dumping ground for tens of millions of people, many of whom live hundreds of miles outside of Michigan.

I think our state political leaders need to get some backbone and tackle this issue head on. Since the federal government won't let Michigan ban the shipments, we have to use the next best tool: taxes. Michigan needs to impose a major dumping fee that is so large Canada and other states will scramble to make other arrangements.

It is true that to hold up in court it will be necessary to impose this tax on all dumping, including dumping from state residents. But this can be remedied by giving state residents a rebate equal to the amount of the dumping fee that they pay. If organized carefully this could be done so that residents would pay no net increase in taxes/fees yet out-of-staters would be discouraged from using our beautiful state as a dumping ground.

So come on, legislators and Governor: Get with it! Lets keep Michigan beautiful!

Communications guru said...

They have been trying for 15 years to do something about Canadian trash, and Sens. Levin and Stabenow have actually done something.

Stopping “more than more than half the trash,” – I’ll say that again, more than half the trash - coming into Michigan is much better than nothing. Clearly, rogers bill is going nowhere because the republicans control both the House and Senate. If it passed the House, the article said the republican controlled Senate would not pass it and what you have is nothing.

When the Democrats get control of the House in November, the bill can still be passed and in fact is assured of being passed.

This is little more than spin control from mike rogers people.

Pogo said...

As Keith pointed out, Michigan needs to stop ALL trash from Canada AND other states. There is no reason why Michigan should become a regional dumping ground just because other states are unwilling to create landfills for their own trash.

The landfill space we have open in Michigan will serve our state for decades if we can limit dumping to trash from Michigan only. Otherwise we will need to keep opening new landfills periodically, not for Michigan trash, but for trash imported from elsewhere.

We need to take action NOW. I don't like new fees, but if it is the only way to stop the flood of trash from entering Michigan lets just do it. I'm sure there must be some way to rebate the fees back to the companies or to residents so that ultimately, no Michigan people end up paying more.