EDITORIAL What’s our gain for garbage in?

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION -

Ac­count­ing for waste is mat­ter of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity. Un­for­tu­nately, for too many lo­cal and state gov­ern­ments, that re­spon­si­bil­ity be gins and ends with send­ing their garbage to Penn­syl­va­nia.

Although ex­port­ing waste is ex­pen­sive, it’s cheaper and eas­ier than com­pre­hen­sive statewide waste man­age­ment plans that ac­count for most garbage with­out ex­port­ing it.

The prob­lem is pro­nounced in North­east Penn­syl­va­nia, with land­fills that ac­cept out-of-state waste.

Towns and states that are ad­versely af­fected by mas­sive garbage im­ports have lit­tle re­course be­cause garbage is part of in­ter­state com­merce. The Con­sti­tu­tion en­dows Con­gress with author­ity over that com­merce.

Con­gress can em­power states, how­ever, and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright and Sen. Bob Casey, both of Lack­awanna County, have rein­tro­duced a bill to do so. The Trash Re­duc­tion and Sen­si­ble Han­dling Act, or TRASH Act, would al­ter the trash-dis­posal mar­ket by re­quir­ing states to es­tab­lish re­spon­si­ble waste­m­an­age­ment poli­cies or face costs for fail­ing to do so.

Un­der the bill, any garbage-ex­port­ing state would be re­quired to have waste­m­an­age­ment plans and safe-han­dling re gu­la­tions equal to or g reater than those of the state where the garbage is dumped. If the ex­port­ing state fails to es­tab­lish those poli­cies, the im­port­ing state would be able to as­sess sub­stan­tial fees on the im­ported garbage, in ad­di­tion to host mu­nic­i­pal­ity fees.

At the least, the law would re­sult in greater as­sur­ances that the im­ported g arbage is safe. And the added fees would be a pow­er­ful in­cen­tive for ex­port­ing states to dis­pose of more of their own garbage.

Con­gress should pass the TRASH Act to give states and af­fected lo­cal gov­ern­ments the weapons that they need to stem the flow of im­ported garbage and the en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic problems that come with it.

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