By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — The House Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit siting new or expanding landfills near state parks and federal lands.
House Bill 1319 and House Bill 1422 were inspired by the proposals to expand the Casella landfill in Bethlehem and a new proposed landfill in Dalton.
HB 1319 would prevent landfills within two miles of parks or federal lands and buildings. In Dalton, Forest Lake State Park is within a quarter mile of the proposed landfill.
Opponents said the bill sets an arbitrary buffer without determining the facts involved.
Rep. John O’Connor, R-Derry, said the bill would stop the Department of Environmental Services from holding public hearings or discussions and would create a two-mile buffer on each side of the Appalachian Trail from Hanover to Berlin.
If the permit process does not move forward, North Country towns will be paying more to get rid of their garbage. But others said the North Country should not be the dumping ground for the state’s garbage.
The state park system is funded entirely by entrance fees, said Rep.
Andrew Bouldin, D-Manchester, “and anything that causes a drop in
visitors harms the entire system.”
The state parks are known for their clean air and water, he noted, and “I would hate to see them polluted by garbage.”
Rep. Peter Bixby, D-Dover, said prohibition does not amount to an unconstitutional taking, according to the House counsel.
HB 1319 passed on a 189-123 vote and now goes to the Senate. The House voted 260-55 to send HB 1422, which would establish a two-year moratorium on new landfill permits, to interim study saying it needs additional study.