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 Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I appreciate this opportunity to testify in opposition to LD 105.
NRCM urges the committee to defend Maine’s Solid Waste Management Fund by not allowing yet another waste handling fee exemption. Our Solid Waste Management Fund was created to support programs administered by the DEP to protect public health and safety posed by disposal of waste. The effectiveness of this fund has already been undermined by a long list of exemptions (1). By exempting more waste handling fees, like the one before you today, we will further starve this fund, reinforce a bad precedent, and provide a disincentive to reduce and recycle solid waste.
For a good recommendation about how to strengthen recycling in Maine, I would like to refer you to DEP’s 2009 Proposal to Strengthen Maine’s Recycling Effort(2). After a thorough review of existing policy strategies, DEP concluded that increasing waste handling fees like these could contribute to more recycling in our state. The report states that removing exemptions and increasing fees would create an incentive for waste processors to reduce and recycle their waste. Furthermore, DEP proposed a restructuring of the Solid Waste Management Fund to include a new subsidiary account that would accumulate funds from the increased waste handling fees, and provide financial support to municipalities for waste infrastructure improvements.
During the months ahead, this committee will have important discussions about what the State can do to help encourage recycling and composting. NRCM urges you to keep DEP’s 2009 recommendation in mind, and not allow yet another exemption to the Solid Waste Management Fund.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.