Saturday, September 15, 2007

Will Bush veto Lautenberg's rail trash bill?

Tough state regulations give the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection the clout it needs to regulate the operations of trash transfer stations --except when those operations are on rail lines. As interstate entities, railroads are subject only to federal law.

This has caused problems for towns in Hudson and Burlington counties where neighbors have complained about sloppy operations at the transfer stations, but the DEP has been frustrated by the courts in its attempts to clamp down.

Enter NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg, who has introduced legislation that would give states the right, for one year, to regulate waste operations along rail lines. His measure, S. 1789, passed the Senate on Wednesday and was folded into the 2008 Transportation and Housing Appropriations legislation.

Its fate, however, is in question. According to a story by Jason Harris in today's Burlington County Times, President Bush has threatened to veto the appropriations bill and specifically opposes Lautenberg's S. 1789. A statement from Bush's office, written to appropriations bill sponsor, Senator Robert Byrd, D-WV, says in part:

“The administration . . . objects to allowing States to regulate solid waste stored along rail property, preempting authority granted to the Surface Transportation Board,” the statement said. “A multiplicity of standards across states would create confusion for stakeholders and potentially create an undue burden on interstate commerce.”

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