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Let’s keep remaining Canadian trash out

Michigan residents Jim Smith of Davison and Bonnie Bare of Clio are tired of seeing, hearing and smelling the Canadian trash trucks that are still coming down Interstate 69 from the Blue Water Bridge to the Brent Run Landfill in Montrose. They both share the view of so many people across our state — we don't want Canadian trash in Michigan.

Sen. Carl Levin and I secured a groundbreaking agreement in 2006 with Ontario officials to stop, by the end of last year, 1.5 million tons of Ontario's city trash from entering Michigan. This agreement was a success, slamming the breaks on over 40,000 truckloads of garbage that were being picked up by city trash trucks in Canada.

While our agreement was an important victory, the fight to keep trash out of Michigan is not over. Commercial and industrial trash, which is not picked up by city garbage trucks, is still coming into Michigan.

The root of the Canadian trash problem is simple economics. Canadian companies dump their trash in Michigan because it's cheap. For example, Wisconsin charges $12.99 per ton of trash and Illinois charges $2. Michigan charges only 21 cents. While the state needs to address its trash policies and charges, I am doing everything I can at the federal level.

That is why I introduced the Stop Canadian Trash Act to help change the economics. Currently, international trash trucks only pay $5 inspection fees. My bill would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the resources to inspect every single Canadian trash truck coming into Michigan, and it would make the trash companies pay $500 per truck to cover these additional costs. That will fundamentally change the financial incentive that makes it cheaper for Canadian companies to ship their trash to Michigan instead of dumping it in their own landfills.

This is a safety issue as well.

Right now, beyond a drive-through radiation detector, only one percent of all trucks are randomly screened by customs. That means nearly all trucks passing through the border avoid thorough inspection.

Trash trucks are filled with all kinds of things, making it easy to smuggle dangerous goods across the border. A report from the Department of Homeland Security found that because so few trucks are thoroughly inspected dangerous materials can be carried across the border undetected. In one case, a truck driver was caught trying to smuggle nearly a ton of marijuana in the back of a trash truck.

If customs is catching this kind of illegal activity among the one percent of trash trucks inspected, imagine what's coming through in the other 99 percent.

My bill would not only change a financial incentive that makes it attractive to dump trash in Michigan, but it would also stop trash trucks from bringing dangerous and illegal materials into our state.

We are the Great Lakes State, not the Great Waste State. I will continue fighting until all Canadian trash has stopped coming to Michigan.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)

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