Largely rural states that do not want to end up as New Jersey's garbage dump won the first skirmish in the escalating war over interstate trafficking in trash yesterday as the Senate voted 68 to 31 to allow states to ban importation of garbage from other states.
But New Jersey Democratic Sens. Bill Bradley and Frank R. Lautenberg, bristling at charges that their state is the nation's leading exporter of trash, said the fight was far from over and predicted that the provision would die in a House-Senate conference.
The proposal was added to the fiscal 1991 District appropriations bill by Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who complained that their states were beginning to overflow with trash from land-poor, garbage-rich states such as New Jersey.
"We want New Jersey students. We want New Jersey residents. We want New Jersey athletes. We want everything from New Jersey except your trash," said Coats during the sometimes testy debate on the issue.
In response, Bradley charged that such a ban would prompt a push for incinerators and impede recycling efforts. He warned the 37 other states that also export garbage that they, too, could suffer. "What goes around comes around," he said.
Bradley and Lautenberg charged -- and Coats denied -- that the proposal was aimed at helping Coats's election campaign. Coats, like McConnell, is running this fall.
But the New Jersey senators denied they were bitter toward Coats or Indiana. "There's no bitterness. Amtrak just doesn't go through Indiana any more," quipped Lautenberg, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation.