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Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc. v. Commonwealth, Department of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

January 8, 2015

Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc., Evergreen Landfill, Inc., Laurel Highlands Landfill, Inc., Southern Alleghenies Landfill, Inc., Shade Landfill, Inc., and Waste Management Disposal Services of Pennsylvania, Inc., Petitioners
v.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection, and Clearfield County, Respondents

Argued December 10, 2014

Appealed from No. 2013-033-L. Environmental Hearing Board.

John K. Gisleson, Pittsburgh, for petitioners.

Paul J. Bruder, Jr., amd Alicia R. Duke, Harrisburg, for respondent Clearfield County.

Amy F. Ershler, Assistant Counsel, Williamsport, for respondent Department of Environmental Protection.

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge, HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA McCULLOUGH, Judge.

OPINION

Page 274

ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge

In this interlocutory appeal by permission, Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc., Evergreen Landfill, Inc., Laurel Highlands Landfill, Inc., Southern Alleghenies Landfill, Inc., Shade Landfill, Inc., and Waste Management Disposal Services of Pennsylvania (collectively, Waste Management) ask whether the Environmental Hearing Board (Board) erred or abused its discretion by denying Waste Management's motion for summary judgment challenging the Department of Environmental Protection's (Department) approval of revisions to Clearfield County's (County) Municipal Solid Waste Management Plan (Plan Revision). Waste Management claims the Revision Plan, which conditioned selection of a disposal facility on financial and programmatic support for the County's recycling programs, is contrary to the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act[1] (Act 101) and relevant case law. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I. Background

Act 101 requires each county to adopt and periodically revise a waste management plan for municipal waste and to submit the plan to the Department for approval. In 2010, the County revised its existing Act 101 plan to address a shortfall in financing for its integrated waste management program, which included the County's waste, recycling and ancillary programs such as illegal dumping and

Page 275

other non-Act 101 recycling.[2] The Plan Revision described recycling program sustainability challenges facing rural counties, including County. It explained that rural counties, unlike their urban counterparts, have an abundance of open space and fewer municipalities meeting Act 101's population and density criteria for mandatory recycling. These conditions impede the ability of rural counties to provide cost-effective recycling services. Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 546a.

The County created and initially funded its integrated waste management program with State recycling grants and County-imposed administrative fees. Id. at 547a. Prior to 2005, approximately 70 percent of the County's financial support for its programs came from administrative fees. Id. As a result of 2005 decisional law,[3] the County stopped receiving administrative fees, which created a significant shortfall in ...


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