For now, Michigan wins trash talk debate

| 9/27/2004

A bill that lets Michigan regain control over out-of-state trash has been voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials by a vote of 12-4 – but it still needs approval from the House and the Senate before reaching the president's desk, the Detroit Free Press reported.

According to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, trash flow is covered by interstate commerce rules that only the federal government, not the states, can determine. Trade pacts extend those rules to Canada.

Trash has been coming into Michigan from Toronto, which has its own disposal problems within Ontario and is slowly trying to reduce its waste to almost zero by recycling.

For now, though, a lot of Toronto’s trash comes to Michigan because space is ample and the fees are low. For U.S. landfill operators and a few communities, this is a financial boost. But others fear Michigan’s landfill space will get used up too quickly and that the imported trash does not meet Michigan’s standards.