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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

Michigan lawmakers move to stem flow of out-of-state garbage

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Michigan legislators said yesterday they have moved closer to slowing down the flow of trash from Canada and other out-of-state sources, including Ohio.

Nine of 11 bills drafted by both chambers were sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for consideration. Two others went back to the House for concurrence.

“I m really happy. I think today was really a step forward,” state Rep. Doug Spade (D., Adrian) said. “If it continues the way it s going now, we re going to end up doing what we were trying to do.”

Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema lauded Senate approval of a bill package as an effort “designed directly to protect Michigan s environment and its citizens.”

Among other things, the bills call for a two-year moratorium on new landfills and would give the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality broader authority to enforce garbage laws.

The objective is something less than an outright ban on imported waste, which is prohibited by the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution and international trade law, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But by at least imposing restrictions similar to those imposed on in-state waste, officials hope that market forces will play a greater role in curbing the flow of what comes from outside of Michigan.

“Michigan treats everyone else s garbage less stringently than our own, and today this practice stops,” Mr. Sikkema said.

Michigan is the nation s third-largest importer of waste, and the amount taken in now is more than double the level of five years ago.

More than half of it comes from Ontario. Canada is the biggest exporter of waste to Michigan, sending 200 truckloads a day. The border was opened to garbage shipments in 1992. Most of the waste comes from Toronto, which closed its last municipal solid waste landfill on Jan. 1.

Carleton Farms Landfill in southwestern Wayne County, 30 miles north of Toledo, has a 20-year exclusive contract for Toronto s waste.



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