Waiting Game

WITH ONLY A few months under his belt as the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Michael Leavitt has said he will use a collaborative approach in his new position — to work with industry rather than simply police it. Yet how Leavitt's policies will affect the solid waste industry remains open for debate.

Shortly after he was sworn in, Leavitt said he would release a 500-day plan for the EPA's strategic goals. At press time, an EPA spokesman said the plan was not yet available. But the agency already is authorizing policy.

For starters, the EPA is withdrawing 2004 funding for the National Electronics Product Sustainability Initiative, which was working on an recycling system for electronic waste. Federal legislation now will monitor the situation.

Additionally, the administrator signed a cap-and-trade proposal in December, allowing businesses to trade pollution points to meet regional sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions standards.

Bruce Parker of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), believes the new administration will affect interstate and international commerce, citing the conflict regarding Toronto's solid waste going to Michigan landfills.

John Skinner of Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md., hopes Leavitt will work to give “states capability to issue Research and Development permits under Subtitle D” and pursue “financial incentives to increase recycling in lieu of regulation.”