The Class V Provisions in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Act Should Not Be Deleted

06 March 2019 Published in News & Events

 

The Class V Provisions in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Act Should Not Be Deleted For the Following Reasons: 

 

The Legislature required higher standards for Class V for good reason.

       The law has been in place over three decades to prevent Utah from becoming the nation’s “dumping ground” for solid waste.

  • Utah already has nearly 2,000 years of Class V landfill capacity. There is no need to classify more Class V space based on Utah’s past experience that the approval of unnecessary landfills results in large unproductive areas and unfunded eyesores.
  • The citizens of Utah have repeatedly made clear they do not want Utah to serve as the dumping ground for east and west-coast states with higher property values and lower willingness to process their own waste.   
  • It is not uncommon for unrealistic entrepreneurs to see big dollar signs in moving waste to Utah. But over the past several decades, these ventures have all come to nothing. (Solitude Landfill in Green River was granted Class V permit but was never able to get any waste contracts. PPL site has been trying to start a landfill since 2004 with no success).

The Utah Legislature doesn’t enact laws to benefit a single company.

  • Removing requirements for a Needs Assessment and weighing the environmental costs and benefits would change a well-functioning Utah law just to benefit a single company that can’t comply –Promontory Point Landfill.

It’s prudent for the State and legislature to exercise oversight of inter-state commerce.

      The existing law allows the Legislature to exercise oversight of inter-state commerce for non-Utah commercial solid waste, because:

  • It involves a larger policy question of how Utah wants to position itself—does Utah want to be seen as the world’s dump site or the world’s outdoor recreation mecca/tech leader/great place to do business?
  • Inter-state commerce in waste involves supply-demand questions that should be weighed against the risks, especially with the Promontory Point Landfill on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
    • What effect would a Class V landfill have on existing businesses near the Lake like brine shrimpers and mineral harvesting, whose jobs and businesses depend upon the Lake’s ecosystem?
    • Is there sufficient demand for more out-of-state Class V landfill capacity in Utah? We already have more than 2,000 years of capacity. Would building more benefit or harm the State? Are the risks worth it?
    • Would the proposed Class V landfill really create more jobs, or just move jobs from one rural county to another?
    • Solid waste isn’t solely a private-sector business industry.
    • There are many business industries that the Utah Legislature has found need more oversight, such as alcohol, utilities, and tobacco and medical marijuana.
    • Most landfills in Utah are owned by municipalities and counties, meaning government-owned landfills must 

Instead of creating new jobs it just moves them from one rural county to another.

        The Needs Assessment recognizes the investment-backed expectations of rural communities with established Class V landfills

  • Class V landfills are often located in smaller rural communities and can provide desirable, higher-paying jobs. Because the amount of waste that can be profitably imported to Utah is essentially fixed, the laws of supply and demand mean that a new but unneeded Class V landfill will either fail or will take from existing in-state landfills rather than generating new waste sources. This would be devastating for small rural communities and provides no net benefit for the State as a whole.
  • Small communities have out-sized reliance on existing Class V landfills, and profit reductions or closures could drive small cities into bankruptcy.

The current Promontory Point Landfill situation shows that the Legislature required higher standards for Class V for good reason. 

  • Proven market – Promontory Point Landfill has been unable to secure a waste contract for two years and its fully constructed waste cell sits empty. 
  • Public benefits – Promontory Point Landfill would directly compete for work and income with a landfill in Carbon County, a county with one of the highest poverty rates and lowest employment levels in the State. 
  • Net beneficial environmental impact – Receiving waste that could include coal ash and other states’ hazardous wastes on the shores of the Great Salt Lake should be a non-starter. 
  • Serving industry within the State – Promontory Point Landfill’s extremely expensive but empty waste cell proves Utah doesn’t need the landfill.

The Legislature shouldn’t compensate for the poor decision-making of a company.

  • Promontory Point Landfill is not competing on the free market – it has received a huge tax-free municipal loan.
  • Promontory Point Landfill has tried to skip, ignore, and change Utah’s regulatory process instead of complying. When this didn’t work, the Landfill threatened to sue the State. It is now trying to use the Legislature to make an end-run around Utah law.
  • Promontory Point Landfill assumed high-risks by making massive expenditures before it secured a valid permit.
  • No one is responsible to rescue Promontory Point Landfill from its own bad judgment and reckless expenditures. They knew the law and what the risks were when they decided to move ahead without the permits, demonstrations, and contracts that the current law requires.
  • The Promontory Point Landfill has exhibited risky financial decision-making. They projected $13 Million in revenue in 2018 but have yet to receive a single piece of waste.
  • In October 2017, Promontory Point Landfill received $16 Million in funds from a Box Elder County Municipal Bond, and have interest and principal payments of approximately $650,000 due every six months. 
  • Coincidentally, in November 2017, Promontory Point Landfill’s parent company, Allos Environmental, pledged $15 Million to the City of Atascadero in California for disaster cleanup, site closure and other contingencies. 
  • Facilitating a de facto Class V landfill for Promontory Point Landfill with a legislative work-around would reward their foolish decision to build the entire waste cell in such an ecologically vulnerable area with no waste contracts or final permits in place and compound the potential costs of failure or bankruptcy.

Changing the law would eliminate important environmental and health protections.

  • The Promontory Point Landfill site is located right on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, an environmentally significant and ecologically sensitive landmark that is a vital part of the State’s historical and economic life. This also puts the Landfill near the migratory paths and nests of millions of birds, which could feed on the waste, and then through defection, spread pollution into nearby fresh water sources, potentially leading to algal blooms.
  • Many of the environmental and engineering tests for the Landfill were conducted by TetraTech, a company with an economic interest in the success of the landfill.
  • The landfill is in an area that experiences high winds (often upwards of 70 mph), which could cause waste to escape and spread across the landscape. The landfill could also accept coal ash, which raises additional environmental concerns.
  • The landfill is located near recognized fault lines and, if an earthquake hits, landfill liners could fail and pollute the environment, which is especially concerning being so near to the Great Salt Lake.

The risk reward to Utah is NOT worth it.

  • The Legislature has an oversight duty to the citizens and current viable and profitable industries in Utah. Changing the law would only benefit one company in the short-term while having long-lasting and wide-spread negative effects on several other companies established in reliance on the current law. 
  • A clean Great Salt Lake is a billion-dollar boon for Utah. Established local businesses such as brine shrimpers, ranchers, and mineral extractors employ hundreds of Utahns and depend on the Lake for their income. They and several Utah government agencies do not support the Landfill or these proposed changes because the extra pollution, degradation to the ecosystem, and traffic from the Landfill will damage businesses and future earning capabilities.
  • The Landfill isn’t a local venture. The Landfill is owned by an east-coast company that has received a subsidized loan and said publicly it plans to ship in waste from as far away as the Appalachian Mountains.

 

Click below to download these points in an easy to read chart:  

Preserve_the_Class_V_Requirements_in_Utahs_Solid_and_Hazardous_Waste_Act.pdf

  

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Why We Care

  • It is a desert of water in a desert of salt and mud and rock, one of the most desolate and desolately beautiful of regions. Its sunsets, seen across water that reflects like polished metal, are incredible. Its colors are of a staring, chemical purity. The senses are rubbed raw by its moonlike horizons, its mirages, its parching air, its moody and changeful atmosphere.

    Wallace Stegner, "Dead Heart of the West" in American Places, 1981