Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dumke:The latest dirt on the soil and rubble ordinance

From the Chicago Reader:

On the face of it, at least, it seemed like a straightforward, sensible idea: Chicago would pass a law to make it easier to reuse soil and rubble dug up during construction projects so it doesn’t have to be trucked to dumps hours away. The plan, proposed by city officials three months ago, would cut greenhouse gas emissions, preserve precious landfill space, and potentially lower the time and cost of construction work.

But instead of sailing through the City Council in the manner of so many other initiatives advanced by the Daley administration, the soil and rubble reuse ordinance has been attacked by an unusual coalition of environmentalists and waste haulers, greeted with skepticism by embattled aldermen, and repeatedly pulled off the table for retooling by city officials.

They’re going to try again next week.

Kim Wasserman, LVEJO’s executive director, said environmentalists were initially wary because the city didn’t solicit their input before drafting the proposal. When they finally got a chance to review it, its language about how exactly the testing would be done seemed so vague and imprecise—a draft of the legislation said initial screening would consist of checking to see if the soil exhibits “visual or olfactory signs of impact”— that it set off additional “alarm bells.”

“They keep saying we’re in new territory and we’re setting a precedent, but if we are, we need to make damn sure it’s safe,” Wasserman said.

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