WHAT WE NEED TO CLEANUP KENTUCKY
The Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. supports House Bill 183 as the most comprehensive solid waste bill before the 2001 General Assembly.
HB 183 is a comprehensive solid waste bill including a modest "environmental impact fee" (advance disposal fee) on beverage containers and fast food packaging to an array of local solid waste initiatives, including county highway litter cleanup and other solid waste programs at the local level.
HB 183 also strengthens litter penalties, empowers solid waste coordinators to issue litter violation notices, provides a flexible collection mandate that allows counties to demonstrate effectiveness of programs other than end-of-curb collection, and provides mechanisms for county collection of delinquent solid waste fees.
In 1991, The Kentucky General Assembly made great strides towards a comprehensive system of solid waste reduction, recycling, and management.
A decade later, there is still work to be done, but is there the legislative will to do it?
The Kentucky Resources Council believes that there is strong public support to address the remaining solid waste issues of concern in a comprehensive manner:
* old leaking landfills owned by counties and cities that must be
closed and monitored to protect private well and public
* the persistent blight of roadside bottle, can andfast-food
* the lack of a funded environmental education curriculum
for grades K-12;
* the lack of robust funding for community-based local
education and anti-litter initiatives;
* the lack of even enforcement of anti-littering and anti-dumping
laws across the state;
* the uneven performance of some counties and communities in
achieving mandated recycling, dump abatement, and safe
Solving this will take three things:
* Legislative Leadership
* Revenue To Support Local Initiatives
* State enforcement of landfill closure obligations
HB 183 responds to many of these needs. The Council recommends that these actions be taken by the 2001 General Assembly:
1. Enact the advanced disposal fee contained inHouse Bill 183, which would tax single-use bottles and cans and fast food packaging at a modest rate in order to fund local initiatives.
Conservatively estimated, a cent per bottle and can (6cents per 12-pack) on soft drinks and beer and fast food packaging, would according to one estimate, yield over 30 million dollars annually to fund solid waste efforts. A cent per container fee, which is far lower than the market variability in the price of these non-essential commodities, and might be absorbed at the wholesale level or result in no or miniscule price rise at the retail level. Cumulatively, this tax would provide direct targeted funds that would yield highly visible and beneficial results for all Kentuckians.
Additionally, the General Assembly should considerimposition of a $1 per ton surcharge on solid waste disposed of at Kentucky's solid waste landfills, which would yield, according to one estimate, over $7 million dollars annually, some of which would be paid by out-of-state waste generators who disposed of their waste in Kentucky.
2. Enact HB 9, the container deposit referendum inorder that Kentuckians may demonstrate directly what the polls have consistently shown in the state despite the well-funded efforts of opponents, the public favors container deposit legislation as an effective incentive to recycle and tool for minimizing roadside litter.
Kentuckians have said repeatedly that they want such aprogram, but special interests have kept it "bottled up" in the state Senate. The referendum would allow Kentuckians to be heard.
3. Mandatory collection, as proposed in HB 183 withslight modification, should be defined as achieving an acceptable level of collection through any combination of education, enforcement and availability or local mandatory ordinance, demonstrated through attaining objective and reasonable benchmarks over a five-year period, to reach a level of lawful waste recycling, reuse and disposal rising from 80% to 95%, with end-of-curb mandated after that time for communities failing to meet the benchmarks through methods outlined in their amended solid waste plans.
The Governor's amended solid waste collection billrecognizes the need for flexibility in how counties achieve the goal, but the flexibility provided is a narrow one that requires complete elimination of open dumps in order to avoid end-of-curb collection - very likely an unattainable goal even in counties with door-to-door collection.
A series of graduated, comprehensive benchmarks demonstrating county and city efforts in enforcement, education and access is more likely to yield meaningful improvement.
4. Full funding of the environmental education masterplan, should be included, in order to provide short-and long-term cost-effective education on solid waste reuse, recycling, reduction, and littering.
TV litter campaigns are resource-intensive and transitory intheir effect. Education, particularly early childhood education, instills values in a more durable fashion, and is the foundation upon which media campaigns can be built.
5. Direct funding for solid waste anti-littering andeducational campaigns, as proposed in House Bill 57 and Senate Bill 56, should be combined into HB 183 as elements of the amended solid waste plans already required of counties.
6. Empowerment of solid waste coordinators asproposed in HB 183, to sanction littering is important, and should be implemented through administrative fines, enforceable through property taxes or vehicle registration taxes, with administrative costs recoverable from local clerks' office.
7. Expanded access to a revolving loan fund forcounties and cities is sorely needed to assist in closure, post-closure care and groundwater monitoring and remediation for old landfills, provided they continue to meet the benchmarks established for solid waste collection.
8. Strict Enforcement of landfill closure andpost-closure obligations should be undertaken by the Natural Resources Cabinet, and coupled with access to a revolving loan fund for those counties agreeing to ramp up collection and anti-littering programs.
Even as the Cabinet diverts substantial resources from other regulatory programs to address illegal dumps, many cities and counties have been allowed to avoid taking action to discharge their long-overdue obligations to close, cap and monitor their old solid waste landfills, many of which are leaking contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater. While these communities have no claim to any right of state assistance for their former landfills, state law required no bond of these public landfills and many communities lack the capital to complete their obligations. Strict enforcement of the closure obligations, coupled with financial assistance in the form of revolving loans for those communities provided that they commit to graduated improvements in their solid waste management as outlined in #3, would encourage more active participation from those counties that suffer from both sub-par solid waste management performance today and also have old landfill closure obligations yet unfulfilled.
Why an environmental impact fee?
Advancing solid waste management in Kentucky at the county, city and civic non-profit level will take funds. Targeted advanced disposal 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.
- Last fall, the Patton Administrationestimated that county imposition of mandatory door-to-door collection alone would cost the counties 12.5 million dollars, and proposed to expand the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority revolving loan program to allow no-cost loans to counties to ramp up their collection programs. The Administrations' bill, HB 237, provides no funding to counties to capitalize mandatory collection program costs.
- The Administration also acknowledgedthat "many counties are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of statewide funding for the statewide Illegal Dumping Initiative often voicing complaints of an 'unfunded mandate.' The Administration estimated that the cost of remediation of all open dumps in Kentucky would be approximately $10 million, based on preliminary estimates of $3,000 per dump for the approximately 3,300 dumps statewide. The Administrations' bill requires that counties completely eliminate open dumps in order to avoid imposition of curbside collection, yet provides no new funding.
- The Administration estimated that there are some 136historic public and privately owned sites that formerly accepted waste and are not properly closed, with an additional 533 old sites, including dumps and landfills, that need verification, elimination and possible closure monies. The cost estimate for the historic sites was set at $200,000, which is an extremely low number given that the cost of closure of one county landfill alone recently was 4.1 million$, according to County Judge Mike Miller.
- The Administration estimated a need of $4.8 million forfour time per year litter cleanup along county roads and for local education efforts regarding litter, and $2 million for a statewide educational program on litter.
- Recycling infrastructure efforts to expand marketing ofrecyclables, needs additional funding.
All tolled, the Administration estimated over 150 million dollars, 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 an advanceddisposal 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 somewhatsupported a 50 cent per ton fee on garbage disposed of at landfills to go into a fund for county recycling and litter control programs.
An advanced disposal fee imposed on bottles, cans and fast food litter would, conservatively estimated, yield over $30 million dollars.
A surcharge of $1 per ton on solid wastes disposed of at solid waste landfills would yield between 5 - $7 million dollars annually, with much of that fee being paid by waste from out-of-state sources.
People are motivated to do "the right thing" by many different factors: some by a sense of duty, some by a sense of obligation to the next generation, some by a sense of stewardship for God's creation, some by fear, some by enlightened self-interest. Some foul the earth for convenience, some out of habit, some out of ignorance. A comprehensive solid waste program encourages, abets, and aids responsible behavior and creates disincentives for lawbreaking. We should get on with the business of approaching a multi-faceted program in a comprehensive, not a piece-meal, fashion.
Please support HB 183 as an important step towards (1)cleaning up Kentucky!