House Passes Bill to Ban Private Ownership of Landfills

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Chair of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee, Rep. Judy Aron, S. Acworth, speaks against House Bill 1145, which would prohibit the private ownership of landfills in the state. The bill passed the House Thursday.


CONCORD — The House approved a bill aimed at keeping out-of-state trash out of New Hampshire’s landfills Thursday.

The House approved House Bill 1145 which would require new landfills to be owned by the state or its political subdivisions but managed by a private contractor and would prohibit any future landfills from being privately owned.

Currently, of the six landfills permitted in New Hampshire, four are publicly owned and two are private, the Turnkey Landfill in Rochester and the Casella Landfill in Bethlehem. Casella has also applied for a controversial landfill permit for land in Dalton.

The existing landfills would not be impacted by the proposed legislation.

Rep. Judy Aron, R-South Acworth, opposed the bill saying it was intended as an end run around the federal Interstate Commerce Clause and would appear to also attempt to shut down the application for the Dalton landfill.

“Banning private ownership of landfills is just not business friendly,” said Aron, who chairs the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.

And she questioned if a private contractor would be willing to spend millions of dollars on the infrastructure needed for a landfill if the state can decide to change contractors in the future.

Aron said a contractor can choose to walk away and leave the state to clean up the mess, which will be borne by taxpayers.

“This is unnecessary,” Aron said, “and our time would be better spent finding better ways to dispose of trash.”

But Kelley Potenza, R-Rochester, said the new landfill rules being developed by the Department of Environmental Services look to be some of the weakest in the country.

They would not stop China from coming to New Hampshire, buying up all the available land, and opening landfills, she said and using them to create profits instead of addressing the needs of the people of New Hampshire.

“This is not a typical business, it is not built on anything but profits,” Potenza said. “Do we really want New Hampshire to become the trash state.”

The state needs to focus on new technologies and trash reduction and recycling so only one landfill will be needed in the foreseeable future, she said.

“Let’s not make New Hampshire the sanctuary state for trash in New England,” Potenza said.

Or as another bill supporter said “push the green button and keep the trash in Mass.”
More than 50 percent of the trash going to the private landfills in New Hampshire comes from out-of-state, particularly Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future.

Garry Rayno may be reached at Garry Rayno is’s State House bureau chief with 40 years of reporting experience.

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