Addendum: The Fourth Horseman?
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:24:07 -0500

DATE April 20, 1996
TO Grassroots Recycling Network Steering Committee
FROM Bill Sheehan

RE ADDENDUM: One More Thought on Our Messages

In my message this morning I suggested that we should advocate ending
all subsidies that promote wasting (Make Wasting Pay?). I suggested two
more besides taxing virgin material extraction (namely, manufacturer and
landfill/incinerator subsidies). I forgot one that I intended to
mention that relates very much to the concerns of the landfill fighters
I think we need to listen to. It is also currently of central concern
to the wasting establishment.

A fourth subsidy concerns the transport of waste between states and the
forcing of communities to accept, and thus subsidize perpetual care of,
that waste. Local responsibility for disposing waste is a good
principle to push, because if people have to deal with their wastes
locally, resource conservation looks a whole lot more compelling. But
also unfettered interstate waste shipments have come into direct
conflict with recycling, as the wasters' legal challenge to Wisconsin's
recycling law shows. Wisconsin's law required people in out-of-state
communities sending waste to Wisconsin landfills to recycle as much as
Wisconsin folks. WMX and NSWMA sued and won. In this case, the
taxpayers of Wisconsin who recycle are being forced to subsidize
landfill space for out-of-state folks who may not want to spend the time
or money to recycle. (This was the subject of a diatribe I sent around
last week entitled 'Recycling Meets Interstate Waste.' I'll Send it out
again; just delete if you already read it.)

So the wasting subsidies I propose we include in a Make Wasting Pay
campaign are, in logical order:

(1) Raw Material Extraction Subsidies (level the playing field for
recycling. NOTE: the word 'virgin' is a bit of jargon that most people
are unfamiliar with.)

(2) Manufacturing Subsidies (e.g., disposal costs for overpackaged,
flimsy or disposable goods are subsidized by local governments and tax
payers; promote manufacturer responsibility)

(3) Interstate Waste Transport Subsidies (support the right to say no
to out-of-state waste)

(4) Waste Facility Subsidies (in the case of landfills, true
environmental costs are subsidized by future generations; change
Subtitle D to require payment of full environmental costs up front.
NOTE: I am on the NRC full cost accounting subcommittee, and this is not
at all what is being discussed. The environmental externalities I am
talking about were early dismissed because they can't be, or haven't
been, quantified to every one's satisfaction. Engineers and other
professionals who are part of the wasting establishment usually deny
they exist.)

Obviously, one group can't do all of this, let alone in addition to the
other stuff; but we can build coalitions with folks already working on
parts of this. Again, please give me some feedback!