Interstate Municipal Solid Waste Control Act

Interstate Municipal Solid Waste Control Act



Monday, March 21, 1994

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues from Pennsylvania in introducing important bipartisan legislation to help our State address its growing problems with out-of-State municipal waste. I would particularly like to commend Congressmen Jim Greenwood, Jack Murtha, Bill Clinger, and Joe McDade for their leadership in this effort.

Back in 1992, I joined many of my Pennsylvania colleagues in writing to congressional leadership urging them to break the gridlock that has blocked action on this issue for so many years. I reiterate that plea today: we must act to give States a voice in limiting interstate waste shipments.

This bill will give the Governors, in consultation with local communities, the authority to restrict interstate waste shipments.

Pennsylvania imports far more municipal waste than any other State. In 1993 alone, nearly 4 million tons of waste was shipped into our State for disposal. Almost 2 million tons of waste was shipped to Pennsylvania from New York, and another 1.3 million tons came from New Jersey. According to the waste management industry, this waste is brought to our State because "the political and economic costs of disposal in the generating state become so high that it is 'less expensive' to transport [waste] to other states." In other words, since other States cannot find the political willpower to make hard decisions about where to place their landfills, they choose the easy way out and ship their waste to Pennsylvania.

I believe that the time has come to give Pennsylvania and other States the power to say "no" to the huge shipments of interstate waste that cross our borders every day.

Federal laws require States to develop plans for comprehensive State management of municipal waste. These plans can include programs to reduce waste and require recycling. But, citing the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, courts have repeatedly overturned State plans to limit interstate waste shipments. As a result, Governors are virtually powerless to control or restrict out-of-State waste. It is time to close this loophole.

For Pennsylvania, this legislation is important because it will give us the ability to comprehensively manage all municipal solid waste in our State. For our neighbors, enactment of this legislation will mean that their political "free-ride" is over. These States will have to find ways to manage their own waste problems without pushing it across our borders.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).