Levin Statement Regarding Interstate Waste Legislation
MR. LEVIN. I am pleased to testify before this committee on this important legislation. The Senate has expressed its will on this issue over and over again by overwhelming votes. However, we have been unable to enact a law that would give states and local governments control over their own jurisdictions, and over their own land. In Michigan, my counties and townships have plans for waste disposal and have invested a lot of money to dispose of their waste locally. Those plans and those investments are disrupted when contracts are entered into without consideration by State, county, or local governments of the impact of those contracts.
In Michigan, we are facing a totally unsustainable situation with regard to the importation of waste from other states and Canada. Waste received from states outside Michigan increased 16 percent in fiscal year 2001, while imports from Canada rose 40 percent. Over the past two years, imports from Canada have risen 152 percent and now constitute about half of the imported waste received at Michigan landfills. Currently, approximately 1,300 truckloads of waste come in to Michigan each week from Canada. And this problem isn=t going to get any better. These shipments of waste are expected to continue as Toronto and other Ontario sources phase out local disposal sites. On December 4, 2001, the Toronto City Council voted 38-2 to approve a new solid waste disposal contract that would ship an additional 1.25 million tons of waste per year to the Carleton Farms landfill in Wayne County, Michigan, beginning in January, 2003. In addition, two other Ontario communities that generate a combined 385,000 tons of waste annually have signed contracts to ship their waste to Carleton Farms.
Based on current usage statistics, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality estimates that Michigan has capacity for 15-17 years of disposal in landfills. However, with the proposed dramatic increase in the importation of waste, this capacity is less than 10 years. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality estimates that, for every five years of disposal of Canadian waste at the current usage volume, Michigan is losing a full year of landfill capacity.
The environmental impacts on landfills, including groundwater contamination, noise pollution and foul odors, are exacerbated by the significant increase in the use of our landfills from sources outside of Michigan. Congressional inaction is harming our constituents who are powerless to do anything about this.
The EPA has stated that our lack of domestic laws in this area hinders international efforts to control shipments of Canadian municipal waste into Michigan. This legislation would resolve this problem by giving control to the states to determine whether or not they want to accept out-of-state waste.
I am pleased that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has hearings planned on this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this important legislation passed and signed into law.