Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bill on Waste Disposal Fees Killed in Senate

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bill on Waste Disposal Fees Killed in Senate

Article excerpt

By Lou Anne Wolfe

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Legislation to undo Oklahoma's new reciprocal fee schedule for hazardous waste disposal passed the state House of Representatives 52-42 on Thursday, but the Senate rejected it by 39-8.

Authors of House Bill 1090 claimed they would not attempt to resurrect it, if it was rejected Thursday.

House Bill 1090, by Rep. M.C. Leist, D-Morris, and Sen. Kevin Easley, D-Broken Arrow, would change a law enacted last year to charge a $9 per ton base rate for disposal in the hazardous waste landfill located at Lone Mountain in Major County. The facility is operated by U.S. Pollution Control Inc. of Houston.

The law also carries a reciprocal provision for customers from other states who want to dispose of waste at Lone Mountain. If the disposal fee in their states is higher than Oklahoma's, the reciprocal fee requires the customers to pay that same rate.

But if the fee in their states is lower, the customers must pay Oklahoma's base rate of $9 per ton. The reciprocal schedule became effective May 1.

House Bill 1090 would repeal the reciprocity law and raise the base rate to $11 per ton. Leist said the reasoning behind the move was USPCI officials said they would pay the reciprocal fees collected from customers to the state under protest. Leist said the company would file a lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of the law, under interstate commerce provisions.

Meanwhile, the fees paid under protest would be tied up with the state treasurer, and inaccessible until a legal ruling was made, Leist said. The fees are supposed to go toward environmental cleanup.

Leist requested an attorney general's opinion on the constitutionality of Oklahoma's reciprocity law. He received an "informal" opinion from Assistant Attorney General Brita Haugland Cantrell that said the reciprocal fee "does raise serious constitutional concerns pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U. …

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