PA Supreme Court upholds landfill regs

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

    HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld Department of Environmental Protection regulations that require landfill operators to show proposed landfill construction or expansion will generate social and economic benefits that clearly outweigh potential environmental harms. Department Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “These regulations give the state important flexibility and discretion in how to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.” During the permitting process, a harms-benefits test looks at the balance between the impact of a landfill on the surrounding communities and any environmental, social and economic benefits gained from a proposed facility. The analysis is the initial screening mechanism for landfill permit reviews conducted before a full technical review. Two landfill operators, Eagle Environmental II LP and Tri-County Industries Inc., had argued that the harms-benefits test was beyond the authority of the Solid Waste Management Act and the Municipal Waste Management Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. They also argued that requiring benefits to outweigh environmental harms was unconstitutionally vague and beyond the state’s police powers. In rejecting these arguments, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Oct. 27, held that consideration of economic and social harms and benefits is within the authority of the acts and the concept of a balancing test is common and practiced by businesses everyday and the concepts of harms and benefits are easily understood.