Minneapolis landfills sue state environmental agency over incineration push
- Three Minneapolis-area landfills owned by Waste Management (Burnsville Sanitary Landfill, Elk River Landfill and Spruce Ridge Landfill) and one owned by Republic Services (Pine Bend Landfill) have filed suit against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for allegedly misinterpreting a law that prioritizes incinerating garbage rather than landfilling it, according to the StarTribune.
- Earlier this year, MPCA fined each of the landfills $20,000 for accepting garbage that could have been used at waste-to-energy facilities. The StarTribune reported in January that MCPA had begun to start pushing for more waste incineration, suddenly enforcing a law from the 1980s to prioritize burning.
- The lawsuits note that compliance with the incineration law will be impossible without a complete redrafting of communication between industry players in the region. The landfills are also asking the court to drop the fines.
Waste Management has been positioned as one of the biggest opponents of this enforcement since it was re-upped in January, therefore the suit shouldn't come as a surprise to those who have watched the contentious issue unfold. Earlier this year, an official with MPCA told the StarTribune there was “no reason” to be putting waste in landfills when there are facilities that were meant to process and incinerate garbage. However MPCA has been fighting this battle with local municipalities for years, and pushback has remained strong.
The lawsuits filed in Minnesota drive the ongoing, industrywide controversy of landfill versus incineration. As a whole, the industry hasn't entirely made up its mind on whether or not it's better to pack waste away underground or burn it to ash and produce electricity. Neither is a perfect solution and both come with externalities that have to be considered and mitigated. While some activists and governments have raised concerns about pollution from WTE, it's not clear that the increasing number of cities and states with "zero waste" goals can achieve that number without using WTE.
- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Landfills sue state over push to burn more garbage
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