Restrictions on the Free Movement of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Interstate Commerce. Congress has introduced approximately 100 bills since 1990 that would authorize states to prohibit or restrict municipal solid waste (MSW) or garbage in interstate commerce. Moreover, beginning in the 1970s, state legislatures passed legislation to accomplish the same restrictions or prohibitions. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down some of these state laws (Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U.S. 617 (1978) because they were unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause.
Today, garbage crosses state lines for disposal in regional, state-of-the-art landfills that, largely as a result of federal environmental rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), have replaced thousands of small, unpermitted landfills. NSWMA has been at the forefront of challenging these restrictions in court and opposes proposed Congressional efforts to authorize states to impose such restrictions.
Flow Control. “Flow control” refers to a requirement by state or local governments that municipal solid waste (MSW) generated within or imported into designated jurisdictions be sent to a specific facility for disposal, incineration or recycling. Flow control and “waste designation” are interchangeable terms. Beginning in the mid-1970s, flow control ordinances were passed to guarantee that waste-to-energy plants received enough solid waste to cover the cost of construction, operation and debt service. As with similar restrictions on the movement of garbage in interstate commerce, the U.S. Supreme Court found flow control to be an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause (C&A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, N.Y., 511 U.S. 383 (1994)). However, under limited circumstances where local government has been found to be a “market participant” (a legal doctrine), flow control has been allowed.
NSWMA consistently opposes flow control on strong policy grounds, even when it is deemed legal. Flow control does not guarantee protection of public health and the environment; by reducing disposal choices for generators and transporters of solid waste, flow control often artificially increases disposal prices; and flow control does not ensure development of state recycling markets.
Ergonomics. On Nov. 14, 2000, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued final ergonomics regulations, intended to prevent the occurrence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (or repetitive stress injuries), such as tendonitis, low back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome, by controlling employee exposure to workplace risk factors that can cause or aggravate the condition. The impact of the regulations’ “grandfather” provision, under which employers need to evaluate their existing ergonomics programs by Jan.16, 2001, is described here. Employers’ compliance obligations take effect beginning Oct. 15, 2001.
These regulations are significantly broader and more complicated than OSHA’s November 1999 proposed regulations and include several important changes. Industry groups have filed a number of lawsuits challenging the new regulations, and NSWMA is considering its legal options. A final court decision on the legality of OSHA’s ergonomics regulations is not expected until early 2002.
While many NSWMA members address ergonomics hazards within their control, specific data on exposures, health effects, and the effectiveness of available solutions in the solid waste industry is extremely limited. For these reasons, NSWMA has submitted comments seeking an exemption from OSHA’s ergonomics rule for the solid waste industry. OSHA rejected NSWMA’s request, although the agency is exempting the construction, maritime, agriculture and railroad industries form its final regulations because employers in those industries have limited control over their employees and their workplaces, and OSHA has admitted that it does not have adequate data on these industries and does not know the ergonomics solutions for them. NSWMA believes these same principles apply to the solid waste industry.
Just Compensation and Hauler Displacement. When local government, such as cities, towns or solid waste authorities, decide to expand their jurisdiction and provide waste services, the private solid waste collection industry is displaced often without compensation for lost business. When this occurs, years of building a competitive business are lost, such as investments in trucks, equipment and waste facilities.
NSWMA has successfully pursued a legislative solution for this problem. As a result, at least 12 states currently recognize some level of property rights for displaced waste haulers.
Federal Contract Debarment. In July 1999, the Administration issued proposed revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs), to allow federal contracting officers to deny contracts to companies and other employers if there is “relevant, credible information” that the employer uses “unsatisfactory” labor and employment policies and practices, or “alleged” violations of other laws.
NSWMA is following the proposed regulations as part of a national coalition of major associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Round Table, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The regulations would change the way the federal government awards contracts. EIA’s members who collect, process, recycle and dispose of solid waste (NSWMA) or manufacture equipment (WASTEC) provide services and equipment to the federal government and thus would be impacted by the outcome of the FAR revisions.
Truck Weights. In December 1999, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the initiation of a study required by Congress in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, to examine the economic safety and infrastructure impacts of truck weight standards on specialized hauling vehicles (SHV). The Department of Transportation (DOT) is required to report the results of this study to Congress and make any recommendations that are determined appropriate as a result of this study.
NSWMA has submitted comments on a series of questions asked by FHWA. Garbage trucks are considered specialized hauling vehicles that present some very unique vehicle characteristics and operational issues that FHWA must understand and consider in its study and recommendation to Congress. NSWMA expects the FHWA study to be complete by XX.
EPA’s Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Air Emission Rules. On July 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first phase of more stringent emission standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles (Federal Register ____). The final rule establishes new diesel engine air emission standards for all vehicles over 8,500 pounds beginning with the 2004 model year and requires those engines to undergo rigorous tests to ensure compliance with the new standards beginning in 2007. In addition, heavy-duty gasoline engines are required to meet new, more stringent air emission standards starting no later than the 2005 model year.
On June 2, EPA proposed the second phase of the engine and vehicle air emission rules. The proposal imposes additional emission standards on heavy-duty diesel engines and vehicles. EPA’s goal is to reduce smog-causing emissions by 95 percent and particulate emissions by 90 percent. In order to meet the more stringent standards for diesel engines, the proposal also requires the sulfur content of diesel fuel to be capped at 15 parts per million, a 97 percent reduction. EPA plans to finalize these standards by the end of year and the rules will take effect in 2006/2007. NSWMA submitted comments to EPA raising some potential concerns that the proposed standards will have on the solid waste industry.
Driver Hours-Of-Service Regulations. On May 22, 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed changes to the current hours-of-service regulations to reduce accidents caused by commercial driver fatigue (Federal Register ____). The proposed regulations would, among other things, put truck drivers on a 24-hour cycle — 12 hours on the job and 12 off — to allow for a normal sleep cycle. Currently drivers are supposed to drive no more than 10 hours and then take 8 hours off. NSWMA expects to file comments concerning this proposal raising potential questions and concerns regarding their application to drivers of commercial garbage trucks in late 2000. Congress has held hearings on the proposed new regulations where many members have expressed concern about the application of the new standards.
Solid Waste Transfer Stations. Transfer stations consolidate small loads of MSW collected from individual residential or commercial routes into larger loads that are then transported to final disposal facilities. Transfer stations cut down on the number of vehicles needed to transport trash to landfills or incinerators. This reduces the fuel consumed by these vehicles and lowers emissions from transportation vehicles. In late 1998, the Waste Facilities Siting Subcommittee (Waste Transfer Station Work Group), under the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), held hearings to develop a report and recommendations regarding which, if any, regulatory and technical approaches should be used in the siting and operating of waste transfer stations. NSWMA provided written and oral testimony at one of these hearings. EPA is currently writing best management practices for transfer stations. NSWMA is working with EPA on the guidelines.
Privatization. NSWMA strongly encourages local governments to privatize their solid waste collection, disposal and processing operations. As local governments throughout the United States face tighter budgets and increasing demands for services, many have turned to the private sector for efficient and cost-effective waste collection, recycling, and disposal services. Independent studies have found that private collection services result in greater efficiency because private haulers generally use smaller, more efficient pick-up crews; have lower absenteeism; have high productivity because private haulers generally serve more households per hour; and have less downtime because private haulers tend to buy standardized trucks with larger capacity and maintain these vehicles on a regular schedule.
Changes to the Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Criteria. On April 6, 2000, EPA published a request for information and data on two issues related to the Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Criteria. The first was on the performance of alternative liner designs when leachate is recirculated and the second was on the performance of bioreactor landfills. If sufficient information and data on these issues is submitted to the agency, it will revise the landfill rules to allow leachate recirculation on alternative liners and the operation of bioreactor landfills. NSWMA submitted comments on August 7, 2000, that supported changing the landfill rules to allow leachate on alternative liners and will be submitting comments on October 6, 2000, supporting rule changes that allow for bioreactor landfill operation. These rule changes, if adopted, will result in faster waste decomposition and settling, which allows for more waste to be disposed in the same amount of airspace and shorter post-closure care periods.
Air Emission Standards for Landfills. EPA will propose maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for municipal solid waste landfills at the end of summer 2000. Existing landfills that emit 10 tons a year of a single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 25 tons a year of any combination of HAPs will have to install emission control devices. During the year, NSWMA has been collecting air emission data from newer landfills and submitting it to EPA so that the proposed rule will based on current landfill emissions and disposal practices. NSWMA will be submitting comments on the MACT standards after they are published in the Federal Register.
Environmental Justice. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines “Environmental Justice” as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including a racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.
Since 1999, NSWMA has participated on the Waste Transfer Station Working Group of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) , a federal advisory committee established in 1993 to provide independent advice, consultation, and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on matters related to environmental justice. NSWMA has testified at public hearings held by the working group to suggest that EPA draft a “best practices” manual for waste transfer stations rather than adding more regulations.