The Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. supports House Bill 174, and appreciates the unfaltering efforts of Representative Greg Stumbo to move this Commonwealth forward in our management of waste.
In 1991, the Kentucky General Assembly made great strides towards a comprehensive system of solid waste reduction, recycling, and management. Over a decade later, there is still work to be done, and there is strong public interest in seeing the work done, and a willingness to accept modest imposition of costs to support the work. The question is whether there is the legislative will in the Senate to establish a funding mechanism to see the work done.
House Bill 174 will raise the funds and create the mechanism to:
* help close old leaking landfills that pose a real and present risk;
* help fund efforts to cleanup the persistent blight of roadside bottle, can and fast-food packaging litter by imposing a modest ½ cent fee on luxury container items and fast-food beverage cups;
* fund environmental education curriculum for grades K-12;
* fund community-based local education and anti-litter initiatives;
* give new incentives and tools to enforce anti-littering laws across the state;
* improve the performance of some counties in achieving safe waste disposal.
The modest environmental impact fee of ½ of 1 cent on disposable cups and fast food packaging, and a $1 per ton tipping fee on municipal solid waste disposed at landfills, will fund the "Kentucky Pride Fund, a portion of which would fund debt service on a loan program to local communities to close former landfills, a grant program to local government to clean up illegal dumps, and funding of the environmental education master plan,
Why an environmental impact fee and a tipping fee?
Targeted advanced disposal & tipping fees are the appropriate way to fund efforts to deal with litter and illegal dumps, and a landfill surcharge is an appropriate mechanism to help fund recycling, reuse and reduction of waste.
When the General Assembly saw the need to fund cleanup of waste tires, it created an environmental impact fee that funds cleanup of tire dumps. We all pay as tire users for the problems that improper tire disposal causes.
When the General Assembly saw the need to fund cleanup of old leaking underground gasoline storage tanks, it created an environmental impact fee that all consumers of gas now pay to fund those old leaking tank removals and cleanups.
When the General Assembly saw the need to fund cleanup of old hazardous waste sites, it created an environmental impact fee on current hazardous waste generators to fund that cleanup.
Will 2002 be the year that the General Assembly creates an environmental impact fee on luxury and fast food containers to fund the cleanup of the improper disposal of those items? Or will the retailers and fast food packagers, the parties with greatest control over the package design and product marketing, continue to avoid any responsibility for the end results of those packaging and marketing decisions? The Senate will answer this question in the next week.
The need is great. All tolled, over 150 million dollars will be needed, with a continuing cost in the 30 million dollar-range. The number is extremely conservative, given the much higher cost of closing former landfills.
Is Kentucky ready to support a modest advanced disposal fee or landfill tipping fee to support cleaning up Kentucky?
In a 1999 litter poll of registered voters, 73% strongly or somewhat strongly supported a non-refundable fee of 1 cent on beverage containers to pay for cleaning up Kentucky.
In a Fall, 1998 poll, 74.6% supported or somewhat supported a 50 cent per ton fee on garbage disposed of at landfills to go into a fund for county recycling and litter control programs.
The special interests seeking to avoid the advanced disposal fee will be spending big to attempt to sway the Senate to eliminate the environmental impact fee. Please use your energy and your voice today to move our state forward. Urge the State Senate to support HB 174 with funding mechanisms intact as an important step towards cleaning up Kentucky!