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E-M:/ stop waste imports

Enviro-Mich message from ecaa@igc.org (ecology center)

Dear Enviro-Michers,

When last we left the waste wars in Michigan, there was an uneasy calm in
Lansing.  The industry had been thwarted in their push to further roll back
Michigan's landfill laws, and Tom Alley had bottled up our hopes for some
controls on waste imports.  Meanwhile however, our landfill over-capacity
continues to blight Michigan's landscape:  waste imports escalate,
recycling programs whither, and groundwater reserves stay at risk.

Now's the time to start building momentum for waste reform.  Please help
support two modest proposals to slow waste imports.

1. Call or write Curtis Hertel, Speaker of the Michigan House of
Representatives, to urge his support for Senate Bill 4.

In March, the State Senate unanimously passed S.B. 4.  The bill cuts off
Michigan's borders to out-of-state waste once Congress gives states the
power to do so AND cuts off Michigan's borders RIGHT NOW to states which
don't require residents to keep motor oil, batteries, and other toxic waste
out of their trash.  Why should Michigan landfills accept toxic waste from
other states - waste which could pollute our groundwater - when our state
separates out these materials?  Several neighboring states which export
waste to Michigan, including Illinois and Ohio, do not sort motor oil and
batteries from garbage.  The Chair of the House Conservation Committee and
leading recipient of waste management companies' PAC money, Tom Alley, has
refused to hold a hearing on S.B. 4.  He needs to hear from Hertel, the
House Democratic Party leader, that this is a priority.  Speaker Hertel can
be reached at:

Curtis Hertel
Speaker, Michigan House of Representatives
State Capitol
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI  48909
(517) 373-1983

2. Urge your congressperson to co-sponsor H.R. 1346.

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md) has introduced H.R. 1346, which gives states the
power to restrict waste imports.  Most of the Michigan congressional
delegation has signed on to this bill, which is now awaiting a hearing in the
House Subcommittee on Hazardous Waste and Finance, a subcommittee to the House
Commerce Committee.  If your congressperson hasn't signed onto H.R. 1346 yet,
urge them to do so.


The status of Michigan's delegation is below.

Co-Sponsored H.R. 1346:  Barcia, Dingell, Rivers, Kilpatrick, Conyers, Levin,
Kildee, Stabenow, Upton, Ehlers.
Not Yet Sponsored H.R. 1346:  Bonior, Camp, Hoekstra, Knollenberg, Smith,

Rep. Stupak can be contacted at:

Rep. Bart Stupak
317 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515

202-225-4735 or
616-929-4711 (Traverse City) or
906-228-3700 (Marquette) or
517-356-0690 (Alpena)

In addition, John Dingell is the ranking Democrat for the entire Commerce
Committee.  As such, he can wield a tremendous amount of power in pushing
legislation through the system.  Dingell constituents please contact him about
H.R. 1346 at:

Rep. John Dingell
2328 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

202-225-4071 or
313-846-1276 (Dearborn) or
313-243-1849 (Monroe)

We need lots of letters and phone calls.  The waste industry is influential in
Lansing.  In the last election cycle, the garbage companies' political action
committees (PACs) contributed almost $200,000 to influential state
legislators, such as Tom Alley.  More was donated to the state political
parties and to the governor's campaign fund.  The industry is lobbying the
Legislature to weaken landfill siting laws even further, so that even more
landfills could be built in Michigan.

Below are some points to stress in your letters and phone calls.

1. Michigan has far too many landfills.

There are far more landfills in Michigan than are needed to hold the state's
garbage for decades to come.  Over the past four years, the state agency which
regulates landfills (now called the Department of Environmental Quality) has
allowed four landfills to open or expand in Wayne County alone, despite the
that the region already had more than 20 years disposal capacity.  The waste
companies which own these landfills decided to build the new dumps so they
could market their landfill space to out-of-state cities and businesses.

2. Michigan is importing an outrageous amount of trash.

Of the 42 million cubic yards of garbage dumped in Michigan landfills, 5.7
million cubic yards, or 15% of the total, come from outside state borders.
Canada accounts for the majority of out-of-state waste, exporting 2.6 million
cubic yards per year to our state.  Recently, the City of Toronto decided to
send its 500,000 annual tons of trash to Michigan starting January 1998.
That's an additional 40 trailer truck loads every day!

3. Too many landfills lead to less recycling and more groundwater pollution.

Low landfill prices discourage recycling, since public and private investments
in recycling are usually evaluated in comparison to the price of landfill
disposal.  When landfill prices are artificially low, recycling gets ignored.
Ann Arbor has nearly a 50% recycling rate while Toronto has less than half
that.  Do you think Toronto will ever reach 50% when they have such a cheap
disposal option in Michigan?

An over-supply of landfill space threatens drinking water.  Recent research
has found that even modern, so-called "sanitary" landfills for household
garbage eventually leak pollutants into groundwater.  And almost all landfills
are located in rural areas where neighbors rely on groundwater for their
drinking water.

4. Our landfill glut has given Michigan artificially low dumping fees.

According to a recent survey of landfills fees in the Great Lakes region,
Michigan's prices are 20%-100% lower than our neighbors.  Below are current
tip fee market ranges in the region:

Michigan        $21 to $34 per ton
Ohio            $28 to $38 per ton
Indiana         $26 to $36 per ton
Illinois        $28 to $38 per ton
Wisconsin       $28 to $38 per ton
Minnesota       $30 to $45 per ton
East Coast      $35 to $75 per ton
Ontario/Toronto $35 to $75 per ton

Landfills in southeast Michigan charge a "tipping fee" less than one-half the
price of Ontario landfills!  The price difference more than makes up for
Toronto's extra cost of hauling thousands of tons of garbage hundreds of miles
each day.

If every person who subscribes to Enviro-Mich would make a call to Curtis
Hertel, regardless of whether you are in his district, he would be forced to
address this issue this fall!  We have proven that citizen involvement can
make a difference by getting SB 4 through the Senate and by killing (for the
time-being) the pro-landfill bill HB 4037 earlier this year!  Please do not
let Tom Alley strangle SB 4!
Let's take the power out of the waste management companies' (and their
stoolies') hands and put it back in the hands of those of us who care about
the future of this state and its environment!

Ecology Center of Ann Arbor
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI  48104
(313)663-2400 or (313)761-3186(ph)

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