CLEARFIELD – During his report at Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting, County Solicitor Kim Kesner updated the press and the public on Waste Management’s appeal of Clearfield County’s 10-year Integrated Municipal Waste Services Plan.
The county submitted its waste management plan last year to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP approved the waste plan, which then advanced to an appeal period. Prior to its expiration, Waste Management appealed DEP’s approval.
According to Kesner, it appears Waste Management is attempting to have the state’s Environmental Hearing Board reject DEP’s approval of the Clearfield County waste plan. Waste Management, he said, had made proposals to the county on behalf of several landfills, including the Laurel Highlands Landfill.
“Clearfield County’s waste had gone there previously,” explained Kesner. “But that landfill ranked last in regard to the criteria in the request for proposals.”
He said it appears Waste Management wants to prevent the county from obtaining the voluntary benefits that Veolia Environmental Services offered in its waste management proposal.
“These benefits would be very advantageous to Clearfield County with regards to its waste reduction programs,” he said. “If Waste Management would be successful, that would be a definite detriment to Clearfield County and its citizens.”
Kesner said he would continue to report status updates on the appeal process from time-time-time. Because of the ongoing litigation, he’s instructed the commissioners not to make any public comments.
“It puts an elected official in a very bad position because of the nature of the relationship between an elected official and the public,” he said. “Elected officials are going to be inclined to let the public know why they made particular decisions, particularly if it involves a significant expense.”
In this case, Kesner explained that Waste Management is the largest waste disposal company in the United States. He said it has substantial capital to wage a challenge. However, Kesner explained that Clearfield County currently isn’t a party to the appeal, as it was brought against the DEP.
He said the DEP must defend its approval of the county’s waste plan. He indicated the county has taken an interest and retained special counsel, so that it’s represented throughout the appeal proceedings.
Kesner said the appeal process is currently in the “discovery stage” and depositions were conducted last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Clearfield County Administrative Offices. He said this Friday depositions would be held at the DEP office in Williamsport, and he plans to attend.
“The commissioners will have to continue to review the situation and decide what’s in the best interest of the county, its effort to defend the county’s [waste] plan and the related costs.”