New Jersey and Indiana lawmakers are at odds over a Senate-approved measure that would allow states to close their borders to other states' garbage to protect shrinking landfill capacity.
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said his bill would give "every state the right to determine its own destiny" in managing trash. But New Jersey Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bill Bradley contend the bill could slam the door on states unprepared for critical landfill shortages.The Senate approved the measure Tuesday on a 68-31 vote. Lautenberg and Bradley say they will try to persuade a House-Senate conference committee to kill the bill.
New Jersey is the largest exporter of solid waste to Indiana landfills, which Coats said are eight to 10 years from reaching their capacity. Indiana, he said, is afraid of being overrun by trash.
But New Jersey says it's also in danger of being overwhelmed by garbage.
Coats' proposal, offered as an amendment to the District of Columbia appropriations bill, would let states block garbage imports as long as they had a 20-year solid-waste plan in place.
Lautenberg and Bradley charged the measure would block development of a comprehensive national solid waste policy by pitting state against state.
"What goes around, comes around," Bradley said several times on the Senate floor, as he warned colleagues that 37 states and the District of Columbia export garbage and could find themselves in New Jersey's position.
The New Jersey senators told reporters the garbage measure could be stripped from the district appropriations bill because the House has no similar garbage provision in its version.
The district appropriations bill is also in danger of a presidential veto because it contains abortion funding language that led to two vetoes last year.