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[greenyes] Michigan Stops Subsidizing Landfills with Tax Exempt Bonds

Friday, April 8, 2005
Michigan stops giving trash firms a tax break
Waste companies use funds to expand landfills that store out-of-state trash.
By Joel Kurth / The Detroit News
Junk bonds

Since 1998, Michigan has issued nearly $150 million in tax-free,
low-interest bonds so waste conglomerates could expand operations. Companies
repay the bonds. Here's a look at how much they received:

Waste Management: $105 million
Republic Services: $17.5 million
United Waste Systems: $17.3 million
EQ Holding/Wayne Disposal: $7 million
Source: Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Garbage dumps may draw flies, but they don't attract enough jobs in Michigan
to deserve taxpayer subsidies, a state agency has ruled.
In a reversal of a policy that baffled ecologists, the Michigan Strategic
Fund decided Thursday that waste companies can no longer tap state-issued,
tax-free bonds to expand landfills.
The decision ends a long policy that equated coffee grounds, milk cartons
and other items that end up in landfills with widgets and other tools of
economic growth.
Since 1998, waste companies have used more than $146 million of the bonds to
improve operations and expand landfills -- often so Canada and neighboring
states could truck more trash to Michigan.
"It's just crazy to use state economic development tools to build bigger
landfills," said Mike Garfield, director of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.
"It's 19th century thinking at its worst."
The bonds, which companies repay, are typically issued for plant expansions
that create well-paying jobs.
Through the years, Dow Chemical Co. and Detroit Edison have used more than
$500 million of the bonds for various investments, according to state
Members of the fund, which is a branch of the Michigan Economic Development
Corp., reversed the policy at the urging of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
"The state shouldn't be in the dirty business of subsidizing out-of-state
waste," Granholm said.
On the eve of Thursday's vote, Waste Management withdrew its request for $68
million in bonds to expand 13 landfills, including the state's busiest, Pine
Tree Acres in Macomb County's Lenox Township.
Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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