The state of Vermont sent a clear message to Moretown Landfill last month when it notified the landfill of its intent to deny the landfill’s request to recertify Cells 2 and 3.
Permitting efforts for Cell 4 are on hold at both the state and local level.
The future of the landfill is important to the town of Moretown, which receives $500,000 in tipping fees and reduces property taxes for all residents from those fees.
The future of the landfill is also important to those who live near it and are upset about ongoing problems with odors from the parcel. And while neighbors and a citizens group, Citizens for Landfill Accountability and Environmental Responsibility (CLEAR), are regarding the state’s December 20 notice as a definitive victory, it’s more complicated than that.
If the landfill cannot create a fourth cell there will be a ripple effect through Central Vermont that will impact far more people than those who live in Moretown and those who live near the landfill.
Everyone whose garbage is currently hauled to the landfill from their home or business is likely to see their rates rise as haulers begin to take the trash further and further afield, burning countless gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, contributing to the state’s pollution and the degradation of everyone’s carbon footprint.
All those who rent homes and offices are likely to see their rents rise when their landlords are faced with rising waste disposal costs.
The Massachusetts-based Toxics Action Center, which has its sights set on the landfill, suggested that the state deny the proposed expansion and “instead move towards a model of zero waste.”
That’s a noble ideal and one towards which Vermont has made tremendous progress since the state passed Act 78, but it’s not an ideal that is realistic for where the state is right now.
The solution lies in balancing the rights of those who live near and around the landfill with the many thousands upon thousands of people whose lives, financial and otherwise, will be impacted by a complete closure.