Free market and environmental organizations don't often find
themselves on the same side.
But they have formed an unlikely alliance, including the
Competitive Enterprise Institute, the
National Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, and the Reason
Foundation, to oppose con
gressional efforts to reintroduce "flow control"requiring
trash haulers to dispose of their
garbage at a government-designated facility.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that such regulations violate
the Commerce Clause of the
Constitution, which delegates authority over interstate
commerce to Congress. Since then, state
and local governments have lobbied Congress hard to let them
have their favored waste-manage
ment "tool" back. They argue that without such authority, many
cities and counties risk default
ing on bonds for government-owned facilities or incurring
penalties with private companies that
have built sites in exchange for a guaranteed flow of garbage.
Taxpayers, they say, would end up
picking up the tab.
But Jonathan Adler of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says
taxpayers are already paying: "They'll pay either
transparently through direct taxation, or hidden through
higher tipping fees like they are now." Tipping feesthe
amounts landfills charge to receive refuse are 40 percent
higher at sites shielded from competition, according to a study by
the National Economic Research Associates.
Environmentalists don't like the local trash monopolies because
they often use incinerators.
"What we discovered was that flow control was designed to
support enormous garbage incinerators," says Larry Shapiro of the
New York Public Interest Research Group.