McGinnis trashes recycling mandate

State Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, is calling for an end to the state mandate requiring that municipalities of a certain size and population density provide curbside recycling programs.

Recycling should operate by the free market or not at all, according to McGinnis, who called the mandate “the wrong tool” at the most recent Logan Township supervisors.

Logan Township is one of four Blair County municipalities mandated to conduct curbside recycling. The others are Hollidaysburg, Tyrone and Altoona.

Unless it makes economic sense to recycle aluminum, newspapers and other materials, and unless there’s not enough landfill capacity to handle those materials as trash, the state should eliminate recycling as an obligation, McGinnis said.

How did our society get to the point where the government can tell us how to deal with the trash in our own homes? he asked rhetorically. “It’s totalitarian,” he said.

Over the years, environmentalists have “brainwashed” the people, McGinnis told supervisors, in a discussion that began when Supervisors Chairman Jim Patterson suggested the General Assembly shouldn’t divert recycling-fund money — and money in other dedicated funds — to fill a $1.5 billion hole in the general fund budget.

The local Intermunicipal Relations Committee, which comprises the four Blair County municipalities mandated to recycle, is struggling financially because of prior diversions of recycling fund money by the General Assembly.

McGinnis has endorsed the new diversion plan, which he called “a one-time plug” for the budget deficit.

Bureaucrats think the money in those funds are theirs — a view he finds “objectionable,” McGinnis said.

“We’re doing right by taxpayers,” he said.

Taxpayers are already doing enough, he said.

Recycling is a “sacrament” in the state-sponsored “environmental religion,” a left-wing agenda imposed by the state that is “inimical to property rights,” he said.

His fellow lawmakers have bought into it, he stated.

“Society has bought into this nonsense,” he said. “Nonsense put out by the hippies of the ’60s.”

It has been endorsed by people who don’t care about freedom or property rights,” — “a top-down fix that got out of control,” he said.

Regardless, the IRC municipalities are still stuck with the recycling mandate, said township solicitor Larry Clapper.

If they don’t operate curbside programs, they’ll be fined, he said.

The mandate ought to apply to all municipalities — or none, said Supervisor Dave Rhoa, who added that recycling may make more sense in high-population areas.

If Philadelphia wants to recycle, it can run its own program, McGinnis said.

Initially, recycling took hold in Pennsylvania when landfill space grew scarce, after tightening environmental regulations led to closing of landfills that leached pollutants into streams and groundwater.

Since then, the landfill squeeze has eased.

McGinnis spoke of the state’s Growing Greener program.

“We have these mantras,” he said.

Two-thirds of the state is covered by woods, so “how much greener should we be?” he asked rhetorically.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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