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Take our water and give us your garbage

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POSTED August 28, 2012 8:23 p.m.

Give us your garbage, your hardcore felons, and your air pollution.

Take our water, our food, and our lifestyle to accommodate high speed rail so you don’t have to waste time traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

That pretty much sums up where the San Joaquin Valley stands when it comes to the political muscle in Sacramento controlled by those on the urbanized coast.

The latest example of the fact the weakest region in all of California in terms of economic and political clout - the San Joaquin Valley - gets trashed is courtesy of Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma.

A bill the San Francisco Democrat authored is making its way through the State Capitol to give us no choice in whether we want garbage imported into valley counties because urban areas can’t - or in most cases  refuse - to find a place to bury it within their region.

Ma calls it the “Garbage Equity Bill”. It should be more appropriately dubbed “The Dump on Rural California Bill.”

To quote a press release from Ma’s office, “The bill will prevent discrimination of out-of-county waste by prohibiting the disposal of waste based on its geographic origin and it will preserve the integrity of the California Integrated Waste Management Act while ensuing counties have the ability to handle their waste in the best interest of their region.”

Freely translated based on what has been happening west of the Altamont Pass, the best interest of the Bay Area Region is to ultimately ship all of their garbage here. There are plenty of urbanized areas in the Bay Area to establish landfills. It’s just that the residents near potential sites  don’t want them.

So in order to accommodate the wishes of their constituents, urban politicians in Sacramento are making it illegal for valley residents that don’t want landfills next to them to be forced to take Bay Area garbage.

Ma’s release says she was inspired by counties and cities in her region over the past two decades that have closed facilities to improve environment and protect ground water “and thus have turned to neighboring landfills and recycling facilities. Restricting the flow of waste and recyclables across county lines would severely impact these counties and harm their effort to promote the most cost-effective environmentally solid waste management program.”

Freely translated it is OK to export garbage to rural areas in California to add to what is already here to accelerate ground water pollution and dirty up the environment. It also means urban areas don’t have to put in place other possible solutions such as expensive co-generation plants to convert garbage to electricity or consider spending more money and shipping garbage by rail to sites in Nevada.

The bill bans counties such  as Yuba from putting measures on the ballot banning the import of garbage from the Bay Area. Residents in that county don’t want their landfills expanded to accommodate outside garbage at the expense of their environment and to the benefit of a private contractor.

In perhaps an even worse position are the residents of San Joaquin County.

The Cal Recycle website notes that the amount of garbage being buried in San Joaquin County is 2.3 tons per capita each year. That is superseded only by Solano and King counties. Solano, by the way, is pushing to get out of being the dumping ground for its Bay Area neighbors which means even more garbage will head this way soon.

And by chance, that is what all of the commotion 12 miles north of Manteca is all about. Cal Recycle notes that 72 percent of all garbage buried at Forward Landfill on Austin Road is imported into the county primarily from the Bay Area.

A group is trying to block a  plan before the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to double the current operation on Austin Road by adding another 184 acres.

It doesn’t matter that the 230-foot-high mound created by Forward Landfill poses a serious concern to the expansion of Stockton Metro Airport operations designed to bring more jobs into the region.

Instead, Ma and her ilk want to bring more garbage into the San Joaquin Valley.

Sounds fair, doesn’t it? Take our water and give us your garbage.



This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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