Keep local control of waste
Most people would like to have a say in whether waste from New York City is dumped next door to them. As they should.
But a bill that passed the S.C. House and is before the Senate would strip counties of their authority to regulate waste disposal.
It’s a bad bill, which the Senate should reject, or amend significantly.
The impetus for the bill is a dispute between Horry County and a construction and demolition waste handler in Marion County.
But the provisions of this bill go way beyond that dispute. It would take away local control over waste management statewide.
Critics say the effort is being pushed, behind-the-scenes, by large waste disposal companies from out of state, which would profit by bringing even more out-of-state waste into South Carolina.
Indeed, the S.C. Association of Counties’ website says, “The true intent of this legislation is private industry desiring the authority to regulate itself and site landfills where it likes — while counties remain responsible for the costs.
“The mandated responsibility for solid waste and recycling currently has a net cost to counties and their taxpayers of over $55 million annually. This cost will be significantly increased if H. 3290 passes while a traditional function of local government, protecting public health and managing solid waste, suffers a catastrophic blow.”
As Donald R. Moorhead writes on today’s Commentary page, 25 percent of what goes in our landfills already comes from out of state. That includes de-watered human waste from New York City.
Already, poor, rural counties like Marlboro and Lee have done battle over megadumps with the wealthy and well-muscled waste disposal industry. Those companies have proven to be formidable opponents.
The bill would cause environmental, economic and quality- of-life damage by taking away what voice a county has in such a dispute.
Clearly, people who live, work and raise their children in an area should have authority to decide whether a huge dump, receiving waste from New York and other states, would be welcome.
But H. 3290 flew through a compliant House before most interested parties knew it existed. The bill has been touted as pro-business, but in reality, it would benefit primarily out-of-state companies.
So far, the Senate has been more deliberate, but the bill has not been killed or amended. It is still a real threat.
It is expected to go before the full Senate next week.
The Sierra Club, the S.C. Wildlife Federation and the S.C. Conservation Voters all oppose the bill.
Landfills in South Carolina are already permitted to handle more than twice the volume of waste generated in the state. We don’t need any more.
And we don’t need any more out-of-state waste being forced upon communities concerned about public health, noise, odors, traffic and eroding property values.
Should the bill be ratified, we can expect more waste from out of state and less control over where it ends up.
That’s not an acceptable bargain.