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National Solid Waste Management Ass'n v. Williams

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21381
Nos. 4-96-388(DSD/JMM), 966 F. Supp. 844/(D. Minn., 06/19/1997)

The court holds that a Minnesota waste management statute that requires public entities to comply with county waste management plans does not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by barring the importation of waste processing services. Minnesota statute §115A.46 requires public entities to comply with the requirements of county waste management plans. The statute defines public entity as including any contractor acting pursuant to a contract with a public entity. Section 115A.471, whose definition of public entities does not include contractors, requires a public entity that approves waste management practices that are ranked lower on the county plan list of preferred waste management practices to determine the potential liability of the selected manner, develop a plan for managing potential liability, and submit information to the state agency. The court first holds that the requirements of §115A.46 do not violate the Commerce Clause because §115A.46 falls within the market participant exception. The state through its subdivisions acts as a market participant in the collection and management of waste and thus may dictate the terms for collection and management of solid waste. Although the definition of public entity includes contractors, the statute only applies to contractors who have a contract with the public entity. The inclusion of contractors does not transform the state and its subdivisions from market participants to market regulators; it simply clarifies the role of the contractors when they, as opposed to the public entity itself, collect and dispose of waste on behalf of the public entity. The court next holds that plaintiff, a trade association of waste management companies, does not have standing to challenge §115A.471. Standing requires injury-in-fact. Section 115A.471 does not impose any requirements or burdens on plaintiff that could be perceived as an injury-in-fact under the constitutional standing requirements.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Timothy R. Thornton
Briggs & Morgan
80 S. 8th St., Minneapolis MN 55437
(612) 339-0661

Counsel for Defendants
Beverly M. Conerton, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
102 State Capitol, Minneapolis MN 55155
(612) 296-6196