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PASS LAW TO CONTROL WASTE IMPORTS

SHARE PASS LAW TO CONTROL WASTE IMPORTS

Any state should have the right to refuse to be used as a dumping ground by outsiders.

That's why most members of Congress support legislation that would let states limit and control waste imports. But the changed nature of the upcoming 104th Congress may make approval of such a bill difficult.A similar measure stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives for two years but finally cleared that hurdle during the 1994 legislative session - only to be torpedoed in the Senate by a single lawmaker taking advantage of unusual Senate rules.

Sen. John Chafee, R-Rhode Island, killed the bill when the Senate was in its final hours. A special rule allows any senator to stop a bill in such circumstances merely by raising last-minute objections. Chafee feared the measure would hurt his state if its trash export options were limited.

Similar fears had been raised by such big waste exporters as New York and New Jersey, but they had reluctantly agreed not to oppose the waste measure.

The new Congress that convenes in January still offers wide support for the waste-import bill. But Chafee is still opposed and, with the Republican majority in the Senate, he will now likely head the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee - through which the bill must pass to get to the floor.

All of this is of concern to Utah since many distant firms and communities view the remote and lightly populated areas of the Beehive State as potential dumping grounds for anything from nuclear waste to ordinary garbage. So far, Utah has successfully repulsed the worst such overtures. But it would be more effective comforting to have a federal law backing up this stance.

Utah's congressional delegation should work diligently to overcome Chafee's objections and get the measure approved early in the session so that it doesn't once again get lost in last-minute maneuvers.