Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter from Senator Stabenow: re Trash from Canada

Dear Barbara,

I am writing today with some very good news regarding our fight to stop shipments of Canadian trash into Michigan.

We all remember when, in 2003, Toronto shut down its landfill and began shipping all of their trash to Michigan. For them, it was a matter of simple economics. Michigan's trash dumping charge is the lowest in the region, which turned our Great Lakes State into a magnet for garbage from Toronto and other Ontario cities. Instead of using their own landfills, Ontario cities started filling up ours. Although these dumping charges are set by the state, we took the fight to stop the trash to Congress. Legislative efforts in the U.S. House and Senate got the attention of the Canadians.

In the fall of 2005, our efforts brought Ontario officials to the negotiating table and Senator Carl Levin and I hammered out an agreement that Ontario would stop sending their city trash to Michigan by the end of 2010.

I am pleased to report that the agreement worked. As of December 31, 2010, Toronto and three other municipalities stopped sending their city trash to Michigan.

Of all the proposed solutions to deal with Canadian trash, this is the only one that has shown a real, measurable reduction in waste coming into our state. In fact, more than 40,000 truckloads of trash would be entering Michigan each year had we not reached this agreement.

Many legal experts feel that if proposed federal legislation to simply ban Canadian trash passes, it will be subject to lengthy court challenges under international laws for many years. One of the reasons our agreement has been successful is because it could not be challenged in court.

Canada has always been a great neighbor and we want to thank the Ontario officials and citizens who worked with us over the last four years to honor their agreement with our state. While this is an important victory, the fight is not over.

In the coming months we will turn our attention to stopping the remaining trash coming into our state from private companies that was not covered by this agreement. We won't give up until all trash trucks coming into our great state from Canada are stopped.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support for our efforts to stop Canadian trash. With your help, we have stopped approx 1.5 million tons of waste from coming into Michigan landfills every year!

Debbie Stabenow

United States Senator

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