TDEC’s Division of Solid Waste Management has proposed amendments to regulations that would clarify how the Division interprets and implements the requirements of the state law known as the Jackson Law. Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-211-701 et seq.
The Jackson Law came into existence in 1989, following frequent backlash from local communities against the siting of new landfills. The backlash was typical of the “not in my back yard” or NIMBY movement. In response to this, Senator Jackson sponsored a bill to establish a process that would give local governments an option to try to stop new landfills from being developed in their communities.
The Jackson Law can preempt the state permitting process, and delay or halt TDEC from issuing a landfill permit. The local approval process under this law has, however, been ambiguous in relation to the state permitting process, leading to confusion about how and when a permit applicant has to meet the Jackson Law requirements. The new regulations are an attempt to provide the Division and landfill permit applicants a better road map for when the Jackson Law requirements apply to an application and what an applicant must do when the this law is applicable to its permit.
This has always been controversial, and several court cases have limited a local government’s authority to reject the siting of new landfills. See, e.g., Tenn. Waste Movers, Inc. v. Loudon County, 160 S.W.3d 517 (Tenn. 2005); Profill Dev. v. Dills, 960 S.W.2d 17 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).
Wayne Gregory, TDEC Rulemaking Coordinator, indicates that the recently proposed regulations are part of the Department’s ongoing effort to provide the regulated community, and the public in general, better clarity in the legal requirements imposed by the state’s environmental laws through well written and instructive regulations.
The regulations were presented at a public hearing in February 2012. In response to comments received during the public comment period, as well as during its monthly meeting, the Solid Waste Disposal Control Board revised the rulemaking package. These revised regulations are undergoing legal review and have not yet been filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. Following legal review, the regulations must be reviewed by the legislature’s Government Operations Joint Committee before becoming effective.