|From: News and Views | City Beat
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
Curb on Waste
By EMILY GEST
Daily News Staff Writer
Virginia cannot refuse New York City's refuse,
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Without comment, the justices refused to consider reviving Virginia's
recently struck down restrictions on imported garbage, the majority of
which comes from New York.
The decision gives the city a break as it rejiggers a 10-year strategy
to remove 24 million pounds of household trash each day.
Last month, a Daily News story outlined the city's mounting trash problems
and revealed that much-needed construction of six trash-processing plants
has been delayed, derailed or appears unlikely to succeed.
The city closed its only dump, the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island,
in 1999 and began sending its waste as far as Virginia and Ohio. The closed
landfill is being used to inspect debris from the collapsed World Trade
After Virginia leaders cited public health concerns and bristled at
the prospect of becoming one of "the nation's dumping grounds," the state
passed laws restricting large shipments of imported trash.
Several garbage-hauling companies — including Waste Management Holdings,
which has handled the city's trash — sued to challenge the stiffer Virginia
laws. The city was not involved in the lawsuit.
In the end, the high court ruled that the Constitution gives Congress,
not the states, the authority to regulate the flow of garbage because it
is considered interstate commerce.
"The Supreme Court decision assists the city in safely and inexpensively
disposing of our trash," said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg.
"Exporting our garbage is a major component of the solid-waste management
A spokesman for Waste Management Holdings was unavailable for comment.
Eric Goldstein, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council in
New York, praised the court's decision but criticized city policy.
"Just because it's lawful to ship all of our wastes to Virginia, doesn't
mean it makes sense economically or politically to do so," he said.
He added that New Yorkers need to focus "on reducing waste and recycling
rather than simply adopting the out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy, or
leaving it to states like Virginia to solve our garbage problem."
Bloomberg has proposed eliminating part of the city's recycling program,
contending that it's too costly.
Report: City's Been Forced to Talk Trash Again(2/25/02)
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