CEI releases solid waste study: Trashing The Poor

Washington, DC, August 27, 1999 – A new study published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) shows that despite politicians rhetoric, interstate trade of municipal solid waste is an economic boon to residents in importing states.

“Many communities choose to ‘host’ regional landfills, agreeing to allow waste imports in exchange for free trash disposal and a cut in the landfill profits,” explains study author Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at CEI. “These agreements have enabled communities nationwide to cut taxes, repair and upgrade infrastructure, give pay raises to teachers, build schools and courthouses, as well as close and clean up old, substandard landfills.”

“Trashing the Poor: The Interstate Garbage Dispute” examines the economic consequences of tinkering with the Interstate Commerce Clause. “The founders understood the benefit of free trade,” Logomasini explains in the paper. “They wanted to prevent state lawmakers, caught up in heated interstate disputes, from passing foolish protectionists policies.”

During the last year, the state of Virginia put politics ahead of the interest of poor and rural state residents when it passed state laws attempting to impede interstate free trade. But under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, only Congress may regulate interstate commerce. Accordingly, a federal court has issued an injunction against Virginia’s protectionist laws, and it is likely that the Supreme Court will eventually rule them unconstitutional.

In response, members of Congress, caught up in politics of representing importing states, are clamoring to pass legislation that would give states the necessary congressional authority to regulate waste trade. “While providing safe and affordable landfill space,” Logomasini recently noted, “the industry has provided economic opportunities to numerous communities nationwide. It’s a shame that members of Congress are willing to trade the many benefits to poor and rural Americans to address a public relations problem that their own rhetoric has created.”

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.