The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 17, 2013

Our View: Bill trashes effective program

The Joplin Globe

— Area residents recently dropped off old computers, televisions, VCRs and other electronic gadgets at the Joplin Recycling Center.

Thousands and thousands of pounds of electronics were recycled at no charge to residents who were looking to unload an old TV or dead keyboard. Better yet, it kept these items out of our landfills. In some cases, the items were fixed and someone else is getting new life out of what was once someone else’s junk.

The event was sponsored here by the city of Joplin and the Region M Solid Waste Management District. The district, on behalf of Joplin, recommended that the recycle and reuse day be held and paid for through state grant money. It assists cities throughout the region in helping residents recycle old tires, hazardous waste and many other products that have no business in a landfill.

There are 20 such districts throughout Missouri that were formed in the 1990s with the purpose of reducing the amount of trash that goes into our landfills.

Money to fund the local programs comes from tipping fees paid by waste haulers. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources also receives a portion of those tipping fees.

But if Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, gets his way, all 20 of those solid waste districts will be dissolved and local control over the disbursements of grants will go directly to the DNR.

Carthage and Joplin have formally passed resolutions opposing Schaefer’s pre-filed bill that would put decisions on where grants go into the hands of the DNR.

Schaefer, former general counsel and deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, won’t return the Globe’s calls so we can find out why he thinks eliminating the districts is a good idea. Nor will DNR return our phone calls about this story so we can find out how it would oversee projects throughout the state. Of course we are used to the DNR not returning calls. It is increasingly unresponsive to public need, often citing cuts within its departments as its excuse.

Schaefer’s bill, if passed, would destroy recycling programs that are already in place. We have little confidence that DNR, an agency bogged down by bureaucracy, would adequately disburse grants here in Southwest Missouri, and the money ultimately would get gobbled up by red tape.

Let’s not undo 20 years’ worth of good work.