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Eastern Ky. Resources v. Fiscal Court of Magoffin County

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 20251
Nos. 95-6360, 127 F.3d 532/(6th Cir., 10/15/1997)

The court holds that a state's solid waste disposal program that requires the identification of additional capacity for out-of-state waste before a plan is approved does not violate the U.S. Commerce Clause. The court first holds that the program does not facially discriminate against interstate commerce. Although it could be argued that the program's requirement that local solid waste management plans identify additional capacity for disposing out-of-state municipal waste is a distinction, it is not a discriminatory distinction. And assuming arguendo that a distinction is being made between in-state capacity and out-of-state capacity, it cannot credibly be argued that the latter is being burdened. Moreover, it certainly cannot credibly be argued that this distinction evidences an attempt by the state to isolate local economic actors from interstate competition. The court next holds that the challenged provisions do not purposefully discriminate against out-of-state commerce. The state's statement of legislative intent clearly demonstrates that the purpose of the waste management program is not to protect local economic actors or to economically isolate the state from the rest of the nation, but rather to manage solid waste in order to protect the public health, welfare, and environment. And the landfill company contesting the program failed to present any evidence that demonstrates that the challenged provisions have a discriminatory purpose. The company relied on a university study on solid waste, but did not present any evidence to show that the study impacted the legislature, how the study impacted the legislature, or how the study led to the passage of the challenged provisions. When a party seeks to present circumstantial evidence of discriminatory purpose under the dormant Commerce Clause, it is that party's duty to show the effect of that evidence on the challenged statute.

The court next holds that the challenged provisions do not have a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce. The company failed to demonstrate how local economic actors are favored at the expense of out-of-state economic actors. And there is no evidence in the record that the state objected to the fact that the company planned to accept out-of-state waste. Last, the court holds that the state's interests are legitimate, and that the program's benefits outweigh any burdens placed on interstate commerce. The interests asserted by the state are clearly related to the health and welfare of its residents. And from the facts presented, it is not clear if the challenged provisions place any incidental burdens on interstate commerce. Thus, the state's clearly legitimate goals outweigh the burdens, if any, that the program places on interstate commerce. Therefore, the court affirms the lower court decision granting summary judgment to the state.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Richard A. Getty
Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff, Love & Getty
1200 Vine Ctr. Tower
333 W. Vine St., Lexington KY 40507
(606) 225-8700

Counsel for Defendants
Kathryn M. Hargraves
Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet
Office of Legal Services
Capital Plaza Tower, 5th Fl., Frankfort KY 40601
(502) 564-5576

Before Merritt and Cole, JJ.