Senator Saviello, Representative Welsh, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Sarah Lakeman and I am the Sustainable Maine Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I appreciate this opportunity to testify in opposition to LD 1194.
Maine’s solid waste management hierarchy (38 MRSA §2101) establishes that landfills are the last resort option for managing solid waste. It is the policy of the State to use the order of priority in the hierarchy as a guiding principle in making decisions related to solid waste management. NRCM is opposed to LD 1194 because it disregards this policy and instead facilitates more material to enter our state-owned landfills.
Landfills are a finite resource, so it is important to maintain restrictions on what can go into them so that they last as long as possible. Currently, Juniper Ridge Landfill receives some raw municipal solid waste (MSW), but that is supposed to be the exception and not the rule. LD 1194 would allow any municipality to dispose MSW in the Juniper Ridge landfill, and would allow for waste that was once going to a waste-to-energy facility to instead go to a landfill—which is not consistent with our waste hierarchy.
NRCM understands that existing contractual arrangements are putting the Municipal Review Committee (MRC) in a difficult position. They do not want to continue sending waste to PERC after 2018, and they would not be able to contract to dispose of the residual material from their proposed waste processing facility in Juniper Ridge before 2019. LD 1194 would solve this problem for them, but it would also open the floodgates and allow for MRC, or any municipality, to dispose of raw MSW in our state-owned landfills beginning this year. We believe it is too early to determine whether the facility that MRC is proposing is going to be built, or even should be built, and thus it’s premature for this Committee to be adopting policies that are premised on construction of that facility—especially when such policies run counter to Maine’s long-standing waste management hierarchy.
NRCM is opposed to LD 1194 because it would undermine the guiding principles of Maine’s solid waste management hierarchy and would pave the way for more MSW to fill up our landfills. I appreciate your consideration of these comments and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.