Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senators met Wednesday to discuss whether Congress should intervene to curb the increase in garbage being shipped across state lines. Several testified on both sides of the issue before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, testified and has introduced legislation that would let states and municipalities freeze waste imports at 1993 levels and set limits on how much imported waste a landfill would receive. Ohio is among the top solid waste importers, along with Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Indiana.

Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) secretary David Hess also testified, claiming that as long as states are allowed to export unlimited amounts of garbage, there is no incentive for them to come up with a responsible way to deal with it themselves.

But lawmakers from the major exporting states, which include New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland, pointed out that many communities want the imported garbage because it brings in revenue.

Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), Washington, D.C., testified that shipping trash is a necessary part of an environmental protective and a cost-effective waste management system.

Federal courts have ruled that only Congress can regulate the flow of interstate waste because it is defined as a form of interstate commerce. The U.S. Supreme Court also recently refused to review a lower court ruling that Virginia’s laws regulating out-of-state waste interfered with interstate commerce.

Information is not yet available on the results of the hearing.