An Ohio law regulating the disposal of waste from other states is unconstitutional because it discriminates against interstate commerce, according to a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge George C. Smith ruled Friday that the 1988 law is "a transparent attempt to discourage the shipment of solid waste into Ohio.""The state cannot solve its waste problem by blocking or rerouting the market's allocation of that waste," Smith said in a 51-page decision.
Curt Steiner, spokesman for Gov. George Voinovich who campaigned for limiting the dumping of out-of-state waste in Ohio, disagreed with Smith's ruling.
"The governor feels very strongly that the state should have a lot more control than it does over importation of out-of-state waste," Steiner said.
Leesa Brown, spokewoman for state Attorney General Lee Fisher, said officials are deciding whether to appeal the ruling.
The decision was a victory for the National Solid Waste Management Association of Washington, which represents 120 waste disposal companies in Ohio and filed the suit in January 1989.
Allen Moore, the association's executive director, said the group is "sympathetic to Ohio's concerns over receiving trash from other states. But this federal court decision rightly points out that discriminatory rules, imposing excessive disposal fees, or issuing waste bans are unconstitutional actions that are not in the public interest."
The law set up 46 disposal districts across the state, required a 25 percent reduction by 1994 in solid waste going to landfills and established state taxes and allowed fees in districts for solid waste disposal.
The law imposes a tax of 70 cents per ton on waste generated within a waste management district.