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February 22, 2011 8:27 am

EDITORIAL: Legislators Right to launch landfill fund

Written by Tessa Schweigert

After tossing out the trash, most residents give little thought to what happens with their garbage.

That’s not the case with local and county leaders, who have spent countless hours over recent years thinking, discussing, and at times, arguing about what happens with trash in our region’s landfills.

Driving most of these conversations are required standards, set by the state Department of Environmental Quality, that landfills must meet to protect groundwater from garbage runoff.

Park County Commissioners decided to make the Cody site the county’s regional, lined landfill after a solid waste management study showed making similar upgrades to the Powell, Clark and Meeteetse landfills would be cost-prohibitive.

Meeteetse’s site closed last summer, and Powell’s landfill is slated to stop taking household waste next year. The county faces an estimated $7 million bill to close unlined trash cells throughout Park County.

Of course, Park County isn’t alone in encountering millions of dollars in costs to close and remediate landfills. Roughly 90 percent of Wyoming’s 114 municipal landfills could pose problems, the Associated Press reported last week.

In a step in the right direction, both houses of the Legislature voted to put $15 million from the state’s reserve fund into a new fund dedicated to the remediation of landfills throughout the Cowboy State. State lawmakers also called on the governor’s office to commit an additional $15 million each year in future budget proposals.

“We know that we have a $150 to $250 million obligation that exists there,” Sen. Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie, said of the landfill issue after the Senate vote. “And if we wait and all of a sudden have to produce $150 to $250 million, that will be a huge impact on our budget.”

The state’s budget only goes so far, and lawmakers must address dozens of pressing needs — from highways to schools to the health department to local governments. It’s good to see state lawmakers also make a serious effort to fund landfill closures in the state.

The landfill money will not be spent until the environment department develops a priority list and the Legislature ultimately approves which projects need attention first.

Most Wyoming citizens aren’t too concerned with what happens with their household garbage or which landfill it is destined for — they are, however, concerned about garbage rate hikes. The $15 million landfill fund is a good starting point for the state to invest in landfill issues so residents don’t have to bear the entire burden through increased rates.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link February 22, 2011 11:01 pm posted by clipstein

    For the 6.5 million wasted on the fiber--lets see would that have lined the dump or paid for transfer station??? How about the pool????? lets see hear it is 14 million and counting and that is 7 million over budget?????? how many dumps would that have lined???? how about plaza taxpayer??????? how 2 million dollar outhouse????
    Why don't the mayor and council pony up all the money they have wasted, how many dumps would that have lined????? be accountable

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