A bill doubling the fees charged for dumping hazardous waste in Utah was approved by a Senate committee Friday and now goes to the whole body.
Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy, agreed with industry lobbyists to change the bill and achieved their support for the new measure. Originally, the bill would have charged a per ton fee equal to the fee charged by the state where the waste was produced. But that could have harmed the competitive nature of Utah's hazardous waste industry. Instead, Christensen's bill now doubles the state's current fees. The fees go from $6 for in-state instate waste to $8 per ton and from $9 per ton of out-of-state waste to $20. Christensen estimates the new bill will raise more than $1 million a year and pay for the Health Department's monitoring of hazardous waste disposal.But environmentalists were unhappy with the substitute bill.
Alan Miller, community resource specialist for the Utah Environment Center, charged Friday that the exchange of bills means "something went down last night."
He still supports the idea of increasing the fee, but worries that the "woefully inadequate" new bill won't collect enough money to support the regulatory program. State officials say it will.
He also worries that a funding shortfall will force the taxpayer to end up paying the difference.
Rudy Lukez, conservation chairman of the Sierra Club's Utah Chapter, said, "We want to take measures to prevent Utah from becoming a dumping ground."
He thought the original bill had merit in that sense, by charging fees equal to those of states where the material was generated. California, for example, charges $73 per ton. "There seems to be an attempt to make Utah a dumping ground, which we think is fairly unacceptable," Lukez said.
- With hardly a ripple of dissent, a bill that would ban the general practice of giving away free cigarettes passed a Senate committee Friday.
HB51 would allow tobacco manufacturers to give away free cigarettes only with the purchase of tobacco. Currently, manufacturers spend more than $125 million a year - the greatest part of their advertising budget - giving away free cigarettes in an effort to get people to smoke their brand, officials said during the meeting.
A lobbyist for the tobacco industry said only one other state has a similar ban. That law hasn't been tested in the courts. He admitted that should Utah adopt this law, most likely the industry won't feel Utah is a significant enough tobacco market to challenge it.