Senators talk trash at waste hearing

Thursday, March 21, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Senators talked trash Wednesday as they discussed whether Congress needs to intervene to curb increases in garbage being shipped across state lines.

From 1993 to 2000, out-of-state waste imports climbed from 14.5 million tons to 32 million tons a year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

"Because it is cheap and because it is expedient, communities in many states have simply put their garbage on trains, trucks or barges and shipped it to whatever facility in whatever state," Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Federal courts have ruled only Congress can regulate the flow of garbage because it is a type of interstate commerce. Voinovich introduced legislation this week that would allow states and municipalities to freeze waste imports at 1993 levels and set limits on imported waste.

Ohio is among the top importers of solid waste, along with Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan and Indiana. Officials from those states say their residents pay higher taxes and cleanup fees because of the imported garbage.

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