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United Haulers Ass'n v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Auth.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20873
Nos. Nos. 00-7593 et al., 261 F.3d 245/(2d Cir., 07/27/2001)

The court reverses and remands a district court decision and holds that counties' flow-control ordinances, which require that all waste generated within the counties be delivered to one of five publicly owned facilities, are not unconstitutional under the U.S. Commerce Clause. In-state waste haulers challenged the regulations, claiming that they discriminate against interstate commerce. The court first holds, however, that a municipal flow-control law does not discriminate against an out-of-state interest in violation of the Commerce Clause when it directs all waste to publicly owned facilities. A local law discriminates against interstate commerce when it hoards local resources in a manner that favors local business, industry, or investment over out-of-state competition. In contrast, a local law that favors a publicly owned facility is less likely to be protectionist and is equipped with a built-in check: namely, that municipal legislators are accountable to citizens, many of whose interests are likely to be aligned to some degree with the interests of private business. Additionally, the principal burden of any economic inefficiency imposed by the counties' ordinance falls on the residents of the counties; there is no evidence that any out-of-state business or individual is paying more for waste collection or disposal as a result of the ordinances. While it is true that private waste processors both in-state and out-of-state are prevented by the ordinances from competing to perform and receive payment for the operations performed at the mandatory transfer station, that disadvantage does not fall more heavily on out-of-state concerns than on local ones. Therefore, the case is reversed and remanded to the district court to consider whether the ordinances impose burdens on interstate commerce that are clearly excessive in relation to the local benefits.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Kristin C. Rowe
Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Wooley, Baker & Moore
Three Atrium Dr., Albany NY 12205
(518) 438-9907

Counsel for Defendants
Michael J. Cahill
Sinnreich, Wasserman, Grubin & Cahill
1393 Veterans Hwy., Hauppauge NY 11788
(631) 360-2300

Meskill, J. Before Leval, J., with Calabresi, J., concurring separately.