Supreme Court agrees to review flow control case

The U.S. Supreme Court will review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision in the United Haulers Association v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority (N.Y.) case.

In that decision, which was issued earlier this year, the appeals court ruled that the authority's ordinances requiring haulers to take trash to a publicly owned and operated landfill did not violate the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. While the court declined to decide whether the ordinances “impose a differential burden on interstate commerce,” it did decide that any burden imposed “is not clearly excessive in relation to the local benefits conferred by the ordinances.”

The appeals court decision contrasts with the rulings in other flow control cases, including the recent decision in NSWMA v. Daviess County, Ky., which industry sources believed could help propel the case to the Supreme Court. Unlike in the landmark C&A Carbone v. Clarkstown case, in which the Supreme Court struck down a Clarkstown, N.Y., law requiring all waste generated to be processed at a privately owned transfer station, Daviess County granted nonexclusive franchise agreements only to haulers that disposed of collected waste at the county's landfill or transfer station.

The United Haulers case could be the lynchpin in deciding the constitutionality of waste flow control. According to NSWMA General Counsel David Biderman, briefs in the case will be presented this fall and the case will be argued before the Supreme Court in January. A decision is expected in the spring.

“NSWMA is very pleased that the Supreme Court will be reviewing this decision, and we are hopeful they will overturn it,” Biderman says.

Waste Age will feature a complete story on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case in the Tip Off section of its October issue.