Metal recycling: State tries to end race in cities and counties – Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly
As a former executive director of the California State Association of Counties, I have observed that what the state sows, local governments often reap.
Whether through legislation or regulation, Sacramento takes too many actions that seem oblivious to the downstream effect on cities and counties.
Now the state is starting over.
This time the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is trying, ultimately around the normal regulatory process, to impose harsh and unwarranted new “emergency” rules on the metal recycling industry – the only aspect of the recycling problem in California. sector that is still going strong. Why? Because they believe they can, I guess.
The regulatory regime that DTSC pursues is so onerous and unprofitable that existing metal recycling facilities may be forced to go out of business.
Landfills are an extremely important civic function which is generally under the control of counties. But under state law, it’s illegal for landfills to accept scrap metal – and even if they could, not all California landfills combined could accommodate the sheer volume of scrap metal generated in it. ‘State.
California businesses and people produce tons of junk every day – millions of tons a year. Currently, most of this scrap is processed by metal recyclers, turning these mountains of scrap metal into recyclable materials which are then turned into new consumer products.
But the regulatory regime that DTSC pursues is so onerous and uneconomical that existing metal recycling facilities may be forced to go out of business.
If that happens, where will those tons and tons of material go? They will begin to accumulate in enormous quantities, increasing the urban plague and creating horrors, and causing potential threats to health and safety by being abandoned in public places.
The state government should be about solving problems, not creating new ones.
Californians would experience the effects of a geometric increase in “midnight dumping” along roads and in empty fields. This will be a particularly telling problem in low-income and minority neighborhoods, which already endure more than their share of underprivileged.
Will the state step in and remove these tons of junk when they start showing up along the streets, back alleys and wastelands of our cities, and in the fields and along the highways of our rural areas? ? Not likely.
The state cannot even keep our highways and national highways free from light waste such as plastic bags, paper cups and cardboard boxes. How is the state going to eliminate tons of “heavy metal”? The point is, no. And who will be left to clean up the mess? Cities and counties, again.
The state government should be about solving problems, not creating new ones. The negative impact of unduly onerous rules and regulations on bottle, cans and paper recycling is already threatening to end the recycling of consumer items.
If DTSC is successful with metal recyclers, the situation will be even worse and will have an undue impact on our cities and counties, adding major headaches and expense to already hard-pressed localities struggling to cope with the pandemic and its effects on income.
The metal recycling industry is already heavily regulated by a wide range of federal, state, regional and local authorities, including regional water boards, regional air districts, local fire departments and other municipal entities that manage and regulate land use.
Sticking metal recycling facilities with unnecessary and unenforceable regulations could kill an industry that is vital to keeping our environment clean. Attempting to do so on five days’ notice under a false declaration of emergency is irresponsible and reckless.
The State Administrative Law Office should summarily reject this blatant attempt by the DTSC to bypass the normal rulemaking process.
Editor’s Note: Matt Cate, lawyer and consultant, is the former executive director of the California State Association of Counties and headed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation under Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger.