House passes landfill bill loosening regulations

House lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that would loosen the rules on landfill regulation, clearing the way for more Georgians to maintain small inert landfills, which contain yard debris, tree clippings or asphalt.

House Bill 320, introduced by Rep. Buddy Harden, R-Cordele, would exempt inert landfills with a total capacity of 250 cubic yards or less from permit requirements.

Current law backed by the Environmental Protection Division is too stringent in its oversight of inert landfills, Harden said, and thus private property owners are subject to fines if not permitted for acts such as cutting down trees and storing cuttings in an inert landfill.

An earlier version would have lessened fines for landfill owners who violate environmental regulations. The fines, however, were kept in place in the final bill.

Harden said the bill also would exempt current inert landfill operations from new regulations, providing they are certified by a professional engineer to be in compliance with former rules as they existed in January 2012.

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The bill passed 159-8 and now heads to the Senate.

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