There is good news for Croton in the recent decision by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to deny the application of Northeast Interstate Railway (NIR) for an expedited exemption to be considered a railroad. The STB determined that due to the controversy surrounding the application, NIR should submit a more complete application for consideration rather than the expedited one.
I think we have to assume that NIR will do just that, and, of course, we must respond to that application in an aggressive way. Meanwhile, we have an opportunity to consider another way to protect our village from the possibility of a new waste transfer station, regulated or unregulated.
I was disturbed to find out that the Village has apparently failed to seize an opportunity to join with some other municipalities and organizations that are seeking a declaratory judgment from the STB that companies seeking an exemption for handling solid waste are not preempted from state and local regulations. The petition to the STB was submitted on behalf of 7 New Jersey municipalities, 2 major municipal organizations and 3 waste-related facilities on October 24, 2005 to the STB by Beveridge & Diamond, attorneys for the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA). Both the New Jersey League of Municipalities which represents all 566 municipalities in New Jersey, and the United States Conference of Mayors, a non-partisan organization representing cities with populations of over 30,000, are co-signers of this petition to the STB.
Comments of support were actively solicited from many communities where the potential of unregulated waste transfer facilities are a concern. Since early November Croton’s Village Board has been aware of this opportunity to support this effort to ensure that our local controls are sustained in the event NIR or another such entity is successful with the STB. Yet, to my knowledge, no such letter of support has been forthcoming. Municipalities in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection are among those who have responded in support of this petition.
l such comments are posted to the www.stb.dot.gov website. Certainly Croton should be there too. We should be availing ourselves of every opportunity to join with others in getting the STB exemption process changed. In this case, several influential organizations that might not normally collaborate have come together to support the protections that come by keeping state and local environmental regulations in force for any waste transfer facility.
This is a step that is virtually cost-free for us and could benefit us tremendously. As you may remember, the New York Conference of Mayors filed an amicus brief in support of the Village in our fight against Metro Enviro. When interests are aligned, as they are here, it is important to lend support to organizations we may need help from in the future. Moreover, in this particular matter before the STB, our absence from the chorus is striking – as this petition goes to the heart of why we object to NIR’s past and possibly future application before the STB.
The deadline for responses to the STB is December 13, 2005. There is still time for Croton to add our concerns, experience and comments in support of this petition.
— Ann Gallelli