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C&A Carbone, Inc. v. County of Rockland

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20075
Nos. 08-cv-6459-ER, (S.D.N.Y., 03/24/2014) (Ramos, J.)

A district court upheld the constitutionality of a New York county's solid waste flow control ordinance that directs all solid waste generated within the county to designated publicly owned but privately operated processing facilities. Solid waste companies alleged that, by preventing non-designated facilities from competing for the business and by denying waste producers and garbage haulers the ability to send waste to non-designated facilities, including those located in neighboring states, the ordinance discriminated against—and unduly burdened—interstate commerce. But the court rejected plaintiffs' dormant Commerce Clause challenge. All eight designated facilities are publicly owned. As such, because the benefits of the flow control ordinance accrue solely to the locality, there is no differential treatment of either in- or out-of-state private entities. The ordinance therefore does not discriminate against interstate commerce. In addition, to the extent the ordinance incidentally burdens interstate commerce, those burdens are not clearly excessive in relation to the putative benefits. Nor does the county's delegation of certain operational responsibilities to private contractors offend the dormant Commerce Clause. By entering into contracts with private entities, the county is acting as a market participant. As such, any allegations of improper favoritism lack constitutional significance.