Michigan congressman demands enforcement of Canadian trash treaty

A Michigan congressman wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prove it’s complying with a bill that requires the agency to spend $1 million on enforcement of a Canadian trash treaty.

U.S. Representative John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, Mich., released a letter Wednesday he had sent last week to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. Dingell reminded Leavitt about the provision in the funding bill, which President George W. Bush signed in January, and asked him for a detailed account of how the $1 million is being spent.

EPA spokesman Dave Ryan said Wednesday the EPA has received the letter and still is deciding how to respond.

"I can’t go beyond that," Ryan said.

Dingell said a 1992 treaty requires Canada to notify the EPA about each shipment of waste entering the United States. The EPA has 30 days to consider what impact the shipment may have on the state and then accept or reject the shipment.

Dingell and three other Michigan legislators Democratic Representative Bart Stupak and Republican representatives Mike Rogers and Fred Upton amended the EPA’s 2004 budget last fall after the agency’s director of solid waste, Robert Springer, told a House of Representatives subcommittee the EPA had taken no action to enforce the treaty.

"`It’s simply outrageous that the United States signed this agreement more than 11 years ago and nothing has been done to implement the notice and consent provisions laid out in a very clear manner in the agreement," Dingell said.

Although the provision wouldn’t halt shipments of trash into Michigan, it could slow them by forcing shippers to deal with regulatory hurdles. Michigan now is taking about 200 truckloads of solid waste each day from Canada. Dingell said one-half of it is dumped in his district.

The House has not yet considered two other measures that would halt Canadian trash shipments. One bill, sponsored by Rogers, would ban Canadian trash shipments but not shipments from other states, in an effort to appease trash-exporting states such as New York. Another bill, sponsored by Representative Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania, would give states more authority to control trash.

Earlier this month, state legislators passed a package of bills that would put a two-year moratorium on new landfills in Michigan.

Source: CP Wire