Landfill public meetings kicking off

Stemming from the moratorium on new landfill permits first issued by Governor Robert Bentley and confirmed and extended by the legislature, the first in a series of public input meetings will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 29 at the Old Alabama Town Reception Center, located at 301 Columbus Street in Montgomery.

During the moratorium period, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) will be conducting an assessment of the state’s solid waste management program and regulations. Over the next few months, the research team will be reviewing current practices for approving new landfills and handling solid waste.

Alabama has become the nation’s dumping ground. State leaders want that to change, but they need to hear from you. Public stakeholder meetings will be held throughout the state to give citizens the chance to discuss how landfills and garbage collection have affected the health, environment and quality of life in their communities.

For those who are unable to make it to a meeting, you will be able to leave comments on the web following each meeting.

Alabama households produced less than 13,000 tons of garbage per day of municipal and solid waste in 2009, yet state landfills had the capacity to accept over 51,000 tons per day, according to an analysis released by the Conservation Alabama Foundation. Accepting the nation’s trash has become big business in Alabama, but trucking tons of out-of-state garbage into our communities is not the type of development we deserve.

Rather than resign ourselves to becoming a dumping ground for other states, we need to invest in more efficient recycling programs at the state and local level that will reduce the amount of trash sent to our landfills and save money for state and local governments who desperately need it. According to the Alabama Environmental Council, as of 2008, only 81 of 460 municipalities and 26 of 67 counties* had recycling opportunities, which shows a great amount of work can still be done to reduce our trash output and minimize our dependence on landfills.

Conservation Alabama will keep you posted on future meeting times, dates, and locations and would encourage you to speak out in favor of rules that improve public health, preserve our environment and strengthen our communities by preventing Alabama from becoming the country’s trash heap.

*Alabama Environmental Council statistics from AEC website at http://www.aeconline.org/recycling/why.

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