Each year, the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) presents a senator or representative with its Legislator of the Year award to recognize a leader who has served the needs of the waste industry and its customers. On June 27, EIA's President and CEO Bruce Parker presented this award to New York Rep. Vito J. Fossella Jr.

At the awards ceremony, Parker stated that the industry is recognizing Fossella's “steadfast opposition against attempts by Congress to allow states to stop or restrict the movement of trash in interstate commerce, for his commitment in upholding the principles underlying the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, for his early efforts to close the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, and for ensuring that New York City's garbage is disposed of in environmentally protective landfills.”

A native of Staten Island, Fossella was first elected to Congress in 1997 in a special election following the resignation of Rep. Susan Molinari. He was subsequently re-elected twice, with 67 percent of the vote.

Prior to his election to Congress, Fossella was a member of the New York City Council. During his tenure, he introduced the first Landfill Closure Bill. His efforts led to a historic agreement among city, state and local officials to permanently close Fresh Kills.

One of the most conservative members of the New York delegation, Fossella is a rising star in the Republican caucus. He recently was appointed vice chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, the key committee responsible for interstate waste legislation. He also has been a vocal and articulate advocate against congressional efforts to allow states to prohibit or restrict the transportation of trash in interstate commerce.

Congressman Fossella successfully amended the Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Reform Act to prohibit contributions from foreigners, even those living in the United States. He was a national spokesman in 1999 to condemn President Clinton's clemency offer to 16 terrorists affiliated with the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN).

Additionally, Fossella has been leading the fight to reroute Newark airport traffic from Staten Island and has twice pushed through measures to improve public transportation on Staten Island.

Parker also told ceremony attendees that politics is in Fossella's blood.

“His great, great grandfather represented Staten Island as a Democrat during the New Deal,” Parker says. “His father, Vito Sr., served as the Chair of the New York City Board of Standards under Mayor Koch, and his Uncle Frank was a member of the New York City Council in the early 1960s.”

Fossella is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, based in Philadelphia, and Fordham Law School in New York.

Attendees included Bob Eisenbud, director of federal affairs at Waste Management Inc.; Ed Apuzzi, IESI Corp.'s vice president for business development; Chris Della Pietra, IESI general counsel; Andy Moss, IESI attorney in business development and government relations; Chaz Miller, the NSWMA's director of state programs; and Alice Jacobsohn, the EIA's director of public affairs and industry research.

Alice Jacobsohn is the EIA's manager of public affairs and industry research.