heard from our constituents that they want mandated recycling in
Delaware. Working together we're going to develop a
mandated-recycling plan," Senator David McBride told his
colleagues just before they voted unanimously on June 16 to
approve an amended version of his bill.
the votes, however, evidently were cast reluctantly as some of
the lawmakers described the measure as token. David Sokola
called it as a piece of "feel-good legislation." Colin Bonini
questioned whether the Assembly which takes seats in January
will follow through by passing legislation to actually implement
a recycling program.
Wilkinson, chairman of the Recycling Public Advisory Council,
merely shrugged when asked during his testimony what will happen
if that is not forthcoming. He did indicate that he feels an
effective recycling program of some sort is achievable.
fail to meet our mandate then we, the legislators, fail to meet
our responsibility. ... We'll all have the responsibility in
January to do the rest of the job," McBride said.
measure would simply establish a July 1, 2008, goal of diverting
30% of residential municipal solid waste from landfills and 40%
of all municipal solid waste. Wilkinson explained that the term
'municipal' is a technicality to align a Delaware law with its
use by the federal Environmental Protection Agency's to describe
types of waste rather than where it comes from.
compromise, which was reached privately just before the Senate
session began, called for McBride to sponsor a floor-amendment
having the all-waste goal reduced from 50% and the target date
pushed back a year from what was contained in the original
version of the bill. A provision giving the Delaware Solid Waste
Authority six months to promulgate rules and regulations to
reduce the amount of waste going into its landfills was dropped.
Instead the authority, the gubernatorial advisory council and
the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control are
instructed to jointly develop by the end of 2004 a proposal for
legislative action necessary to finance and implement a
recycling program. They already are doing that under an
agreement approved in January although the process is about two
months behind schedule.
amendment, which was approved unanimously, apparently headed off
continued opposition to passage of McBride's bill by the waste
authority, a self-supporting autonomous state agency. Authority
officials earlier had argued that the original version would
have constituted an 'unfunded mandate' to accomplish ultimate
and interim goals without the necessary financing or enforcement
Michael Parkowski, the authority's general counsel, testified
before McBride's natural resources committee that the agency
would not be able to comply under those terms, the committee
deadlocked on a vote to bring the measure before the full Senate
and McBride told Delaforum he did not have the votes necessary
to force the issue. Later, however, three of the five members of
the committee did vote to bring it forward 'on its merits'; that
is, without a recommendation.
authority appeared to signal continued opposition when Parkowski
on June 15 circulated on a very limited basis via e.mail the
draft of proposed legislation which, among other things,
reportedly includes a sure-to-be-controversial provision that
the state's three county governments be billed for the cost of
collecting and processing recyclables. Those costs presumably
would be passed on as a component of the counties' property
taxes. An article based on the draft was published by the
Canzano, the authority's chief operating officer, told Delaforum
after the Senate vote that that was all coincidence. Parkowski,
Canzano pointed out, had agreed to circulate the draft
legislation among council members by June 15 in preparation for
discussion at a meeting previously scheduled for June 23. The
lawyer's promise was made before action on McBride's bill was
scheduled and was being fulfilled in timely fashion, he said.
said he did not know how the News-Journal obtained a copy of the
draft. He denied that he or the authority 'released' it.
Delaforum has been unable to obtain a copy as this article was
being prepared. Pat Todd, the council member who has been
keeping track of McBride's bill, told Delaforum that she did not
get a copy in the initial distribution. Wilkinson said that he
as it may, no one except Wilkinson was called to testify during
the Senate's consideration of McBride's bill and no mention of
the draft legislation was made during the relatively brief
debate. Canzano and natural resources secretary John Hughes were
in the chamber.
the lawmakers in the position of having to cast an election-year
vote on a piece of proverbial motherhood-and-apple-pie
he said he personally favors recycling and voted in favor of
McBride's bill, Bonini said it would be a disservice to the
public to enact legislation imposing a mandate to institute a
recycling program "without telling the people about the very
significant cost [and] the inconvenience of sorting [their]
said the lawmakers "are not telling our constituents what it
costs to do nothing." Harris McDowell described McBride's bill
as a necessary first step to assure that members of the next
Assembly "won't get cold feet" when called upon to enact
Copeland, however, cautioned against creating an impression that
either the current or future legislation would be an answer to
the vexing question of what to do about the waste authority's
Cherry Island Marsh landfill. "Recycling is not a panacea. We
will still have trash [and] the landfill is running out of
space. We're not buying a lot of time," he said. He advocated
looking toward other means to dispose of trash, including
out-of-state landfills which are "there and asking for trash."
pointed out that the council he chairs, the waste authority and
the natural resources department are working jointly to develop
mandatory-recycling recommendations, whether or not the measure
which would require their doing so becomes law. McBride's bill
"tells us where we're headed; [the joint effort] will tell us
how we do it and how we pay for it," he testified.