STATEMENT OF SENATOR MAX BAUCUS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today on the issue of interstate shipments of waste.†
I have always regarded this issue in very simple terms.† Should a state or town have the right to decide whether it wants to host a big landfill or garbage dump that accepts garbage from other states? Or, should they have no say whatsoever.† Mr. Chairman, the answer is also simple.† People should have the right to say ďno.Ē† Itís high time Congress gave them that right.†
As Mr. Burnley from Virginia states in his testimony, landfills consume open space and can threaten our quality of life and the environment.† With big landfills come big trucks, dust, traffic, noise, and stink.† In the past and I=m sure in the future, with big landfills have come big messes that states and local communities must find some way to clean up.† These are not trivial concerns.†
Mr. Chairman, I do understand that this issue isnít as simple as it sounds.† I know that some states with large metropolitan populations are struggling with the enormous problem of trash disposal.† But, solving one=s trash problem by dumping one=s garbage on unsuspecting or even unwilling towns in another state is not a real solution.† Montana had a scare a few years back, when a proposal was made to accept out-of-state garbage from as far away as Minneapolis at a landfill near Miles City, Montana.† This would have meant thousands of railroad cars and trucks full of garbage rolling through rural Montana towns.
If a town wants that landfill, if they think that it's a good economic opportunity, then that should be a decision made by the local community and the state.† The community should have every the right to say 'no' if they don't want another state's garbage in their back yard, and states should be able to look out for the health and well-being of their citizens and their environment.† States and local communities can accept the burden of handling their own garbage; they shouldnít be forced to bear that burden for anyone and everyone.†
Mr. Chairman, almost every time a state or local community has tried to restrict waste imports in order to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, they usually lose in court because they=re found to be in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.† This just isnít fair.†
This Committee has struggled with this issue for almost a decade.† Iíve introduced good, common sense legislation in the past that gave communities the right to determine their own character and protect themselves from out-of-state garbage.† Congress almost enacted this bill, but we failed to reach a consensus at the last minute.†† This Committee has raised the issue every Congress since then, but weíve accomplished nothing.† It=s about time we finally did something.†
I would like to thank the Senator from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter, for introducing his bill, S. 1194.† I think he provides a good starting point for discussing this issue with our witnesses today and I look forward to hearing their testimony.†† Thank you, Mr. Chairman.