The Massachusetts legislature recently amended the Massachusetts solid waste statute, M.G.L. c. 111, sec. 150A. In a nutshell, these amendments shift responsibility for permitting transfer stations that accept less than 50 tons of refuse a day from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to local Boards of Health. They also remove DEP’s authority to provide Boards of Health with site suitability reports as part of the solid waste site assignment process, and require the locals to determine if a proposed new or expanded facility meets DEP’s criteria. Some view these changes as an unfunded mandate that is a harbinger of more state cost shifting to municipalities. Others feel that because local boards already control permitting, the changes are a logical extension of local board jurisdiction.
On November 17, 2010, DEP issued proposed guidance (pdf) on the statutory amendments and invited Boards of Health to comment. This guidance makes clear that DEP’s performance standards and its permitting (legal) standards remain in effect and are unchanged. DEP is accepting comments until the end of the year.