Michigan is one of the few states to still allow the burning of household waste, but the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been looking to change that.
Earlier this year, the DEQ proposed amendments to Michigan’s Air Pollution Control Rules and Solid Waste Management Rules to phase out historic exemptions that have allowed households to burn trash, which could include items such as plastics, rubber, furniture, electronics, chemicals, and other materials that release harmful emissions when burned.
This prompted state Rep. Kenneth Kurtz (R-Coldwater) to introduce House Bill (HB) 4207 — which according to a legislative analysis prohibits “the DEQ from promulgating rules to prohibit the open burning of household waste from a one-family or two-family dwelling at the location of the dwelling.”
“Representative Kurtz’s district is very rural,” said Kurtz policy advisor Jared Burkhart. “For lots of households, trash pick-up is not able to happen or not financially affordable. A large amount of his constituents use burning as a form of waste disposal so that’s why he introduced the bill.”
Kurtz’s office has been working on the bill since it was first introduced back in early February of this year.
It recently passed out of the House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee with a recommendation that a substitute be adopted and then the bill passed.
According to Randy Gross, the DEQ’s Director of Policy and Legislative of Affairs, the substitution made the bill turn a “180.”
“The bill that passed out of committee actually prohibits the burning of a laundry list of non-biodegradable type of materials,” he said.
Among the listed items are plastics, foams, rubbers, and chemicals.
However, the bill still allows people to continue to burn wood or paper products, biodegradables, and waste food.
As substituted, the DEQ now supports the bill, as does Kurtz.
“I believe we came to an agreement that everybody agreed helped those people looking for more affordable waste disposal in rural areas,” Burkhart said.
HB 4207 has been referred to a second reading on the House floor.