CSG South

Despite more than 20 years of efforts to address the issue of waste tires nationwide, large illegal stockpiles persist. In a number of reported incidents where stockpiles have caught on fire, mitigation of the site has taken up to nine years and $22 million to complete. Remediation of large illegal stockpiles has been reported to take more than five years to complete. While the tracking and disposal of waste tires continue to present challenges, legislatures in the states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments have been focusing on this problem, creating legislation and devising mechanisms to address this problem, since 1989.

Tire dumps can attract rodents and mosquitoes, act as vectors for disease, and are a serious fire hazard. When tires catch fire, contaminants in the burning material can run off into creeks and pollute groundwater. These fires also can cause significant air pollution.

This SLC Regional Resource outlines some of the key criteria contained in the SLC states' waste tire disposal laws and rules, provides an overview of state waste tire laws and concludes with an assessment of best practices undertaken by states in the region.

All used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry in the past 50 years—approximately 72,000 metric tons—if stacked end-to-end would cover an area the size of a football field to a depth of about seven yards. Although the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste, currently there is no disposal site in the United States for spent rods from the more than 100 operating commercial nuclear reactors across the country. As the nation moves to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear energy may become an increasingly important element in the stability of the U.S. power system, intensifying the need for a permanent solution to spent fuel storage. This free webinar reviews current storage practices and explore challenges and opportunities for a permanent storage solution for the nation’s high-level radioactive spent fuel.

In CSG South’s Southern Legislative Conference member states, the coal and chemical industries are essential to state economies. Given the importance of these industries to the region for both economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation. Hazardous spills in two SLC states—West Virginia and North Carolina—have focused attention on this careful balance. This webinar examines the spills in those states and subsequent legislative action to offer lessons learned for other states.

In June, legislators in New York gave final approval to allow bills to be published electronically rather than printed and placed on each member's desk for consideration. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the legislature uses up to 19 million pages a year printing full texts of all published bills. The move, hailed by supporters as a way to reduce solid waste and improve conservation, still has procedural hurdles to meet because the state constitution must be altered to accommodate the change.

States are currently grappling with the cleanup of Cold War era, defense waste sites across the country. Leaking underground storage tanks of nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in February 2013 underscore the  urgency of resolving these long-term challenges in a timely manner before additional risk placed on the public However, Washington’s current fiscal problems and the heightened sensitivity of transporting and storing waste do not lend easy or immediate solutions. 

The New Jersey Senate Environment Committee recently approved legislation by a vote of 4-0 that would provide consumers a 5 cent rebate for each reusable shopping bag in a purchase as well as 5 cent penalty for each plastic bag needed at check out. The bill was modeled on a plastic bag tax and reusable bag incentive structure used in Washington D.C., which proponents have argued has reduced the amount of plastic bags found in the Anacostia River by 60 percent.

The electric ratepayers in dozens of states have been charged billions to build a site to store nuclear waste. As waste continues to be generated and stored on-site at power plants,   the President's Blue Ribbon Panel on America's Nuclear Future has suggested new strategies to manage spent fuel and create sites for interim storage for waste.

Homes across America have one large problem with prescription drugs, what to do with them. Unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs can pose problems if disposed incorrectly. Flushing medications used to be a popular option until antibiotics, birth control and other prescription drugs began showing up in high levels in water supplies. Currently Take-Back programs and trash disposal may be the way of disposal. But which of these three options are best for the environment?

Hawaii recently became the first state in the country to ban the use of disposable plastic bags. Beginning in July 2015, retailers across the entire state will be prohibited from issuing non-biodegrade checkout bags and paper bags that are not at least 40 percent recycled. 

Proposed rules by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would place more emphasis on the role of states in ensuring the security of shipments of spent nuclear fuel. These rules, as well as other security issues involving spent-fuel shipments through the region, were prominent on the spring meeting agenda of the CSG Midwestern Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee. This group of state officials and legislators met in May in conjunction with the annual meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Transportation Stakeholders Forum (NTSF).