The politics of garbage can be bizarre. However, allegations that contributions made to Virginia legislative candidates by New York Gov. George Pataki's PAC are an attempt to trade "cash for trash" are surreal ["New York Governor Backs Va. Candidates," Metro, July 29].

Overlooked in the story is the fact that Virginia's own data show that Maryland, the District and North Carolina send twice as much garbage to Virginia disposal sites as does New York. Per person, the District sends five times as much trash to Virginia disposal facilities as does New York City.

What would happen to the District if Virginia closed its borders to out-of-state trash? The city has no space for a landfill. It could build an incinerator, but this is an expensive alternative. And if an incinerator were built in the District, a landfill still would be needed for the incinerator ash.

Also overlooked in the Virginia debate is the reality that out-of-state trash goes to modern, regional landfills and incinerators built and operated in full compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. A substantial amount of Virginia garbage goes to small, local landfills that are unlined and leaking.

Finally, as noted in the July 25 Close to Home piece "When a Load of Garbage Is a Good Thing," the Virginia communities that host regional landfills receive substantial financial benefits in the form of host community payments. They use this money to pay for police and fire equipment, new schools and other educational needs and to lower their local tax bases. Regional disposal facilities offer substantial environmental and financial benefits to their hosts and to their customers. They should be praised, not condemned.


Executive Vice President

National Solid Wastes Management Association