Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday announced a proposal to raise garbage dumping fees to pay for cleaning up more than 3,000 toxic waste sites across the state.
Michigan is on the hook for cleaning up environmental contamination from old industrial pollution at each of those sites because there’s no legally liable party. But Snyder’s plan would raise an annual $79 million to pay for that and a host of other environmental efforts identified in the governor’s new Renew Michigan initiative.
The plan would raise the state’s current garbage dumping fee from the current $0.36 per ton to $4.75 per ton – an average increase of about $4.75 a year per family, Snyder says.
Snyder called Tuesday to “leave our children better off rather than worse off,” adding that “at some point, it’s important that we pay our fair share, too.”
The Republican governor will need to win the backing of state lawmakers who have opposed raising the garbage dumping fee in the past.
Michigan has the lowest garbage costs in the Great Lakes basin and some 17 million tons of trash get dumped in Michigan each year, according to the governor’s office. About 25 percent of the garbage in Michigan is imported from other states and Canada.
Snyder’s proposed fee increase comes as a state fund dedicated to environmental remediation dries up and officials scramble to address contamination from perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – a suite of toxic chemicals known as PFAS that have polluted water in 14 Michigan communities.
The plan would also use $15 million a year to triple the state’s current 15 percent recycling rate, which is one of the lowest in the nation, according to the governor’s office.
It would use $45 million a year to clean up 300 toxic sites annually, address PFAS and vapor intrusion contamination and use the remaining revenue for local government garbage planning, cleaning up river pollution, breach monitoring and to aid state parks.
“This would actually allow us to have a significant amount of funds in line, or more than what we’ve historically had, to continue with site cleanup, and in addition, give us funds to help with solid waste plans, recycling plans, water monitoring ... and some state park infrastructure improvement,” Snyder said.
The governor said “we will be running out of resources to continue that path,” adding that he hopes lawmakers get on board and downplaying Republicans’ past rejection of increasing garbage fees.
“I hope people step back and look at it,” he said. “I don’t think this is the same old thing.”