Garbage Fight Pits Bay Area Cities Against Outlying County

Is waste disposal a local or regional issue? A new CA law written by a S.F. lawmaker nullifies a voter-approved Solano County measure that limits the amount of outside garbage their landfill can accept. It is being challenged by environmental groups.

2 minute read

October 20, 2012, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Bobby White reports from Suisun City on this 'city vs. country' battle. Solano County lies on the north-eastern border of the nine-county Bay Area, closer to Sacramento than San Francisco.

"Environmental groups here including the Sierra Club filed a challenge to a California law (AB 845) passed in September that grants the state power over landfills instead of local agencies. Waste-management companies support the law.

Fiona Ma, a Democratic assemblywoman representing San Francisco, proposed the legislation to thwart efforts in Solano County to limit the amount of trash from San Francisco and other places going into Potrero Hills Landfill."

"What would happen if every city and county in the state enacted laws that restricted the inflow of garbage from other jurisdictions?" says Ms. Ma. "It would be complete chaos. Waste management is a regional issue, not local."

"The state had few policies governing waste management until 1989, when it adopted the California Integrated Waste Management Act, which allowed for more regional coordination of waste management. (See Cal/EPA history: The Integrated Waste Management Board).

The new state law is an example of the shifting control. Environmentalists fighting the law say it wrongly flouts a 27-year-old voter-approved (1984) ordinance in Solano County that limits the amount of trash from elsewhere that its landfill can receive."

"This issue of local control resonates across the state," says Duane Kromm, a former supervisor in Solano County and a member of the Sierra Club. "Since when did the legislature get in the business of vetoing locally approved ballot measures?"

"Robert Perlmutter, a lawyer representing environmentalists such as the Sierra Club, says his group has until January, when the law is supposed to take effect, to get an injunction to stop the law."

Thursday, October 18, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal - San Francisco Bay Area

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