Gov., legislators must fix our waste system

To the editor:

In its Jan. 4 issue, New Hampshire Business Review published my open letter, “Dear Governor: Bethlehem needs your help” criticizing Attorney General Ayotte’s negotiated settlement with Casella Waste Systems, regarding what she called “alleged” illegal dumping of asbestos. The AG’s settlement gave no compensation to Bethlehem, the primary aggrieved party, and did not penalize Casella in a significant manner or make meaningful improvements to stop further abuse.

In February, NHBR published two letters responding to my comments. One was from Attorney General Ayotte titled, “Landfill settlement benefits New Hampshire,” and another from Casella titled, “Bethlehem landfill provides public benefit to N.H.” Both letters provided very misleading information and New Hampshire residents deserve to know the truth.

First, I submit that if Attorney General Ayotte did such a great job defending the people of New Hampshire from illegal dumping of asbestos, is it not strange, that the only person writing to applaud her action is Kevin Roy, manager of the facility she supposedly penalized?

AG Ayotte’s assertion that the settlement she negotiated “benefits New Hampshire” is laughable. Our AG had evidence that should have been used to revoke the operating permit of this dangerous facility and accrued millions in fines, as well as protected the environment and people of New Hampshire. However, rather than protect us, Ayotte chose to sweep compelling evidence under the rug, collect minimum fines, and clear hurdles for further expansion by Casella.

Ayotte has betrayed the people’s trust! By her actions, Ayotte does not deserve to hold the office of attorney general.

More importantly, New Hampshire must move quickly and effectively to fix our broken waste management system. We must insist the Department of Environmental Services adhere to its mission to protect the environment rather than promote corporate interests. The state must enact laws that will provide intelligent solutions, stop out-of-state import of trash and increase recycling.

One potentially positive initiative currently going through the legislative process is House Bill 1429. It was originally designed to stop private landfills from exploiting small towns, protect the environment and establish new long-term solutions to improve New Hampshire’s waste management system. Even if HB 1429 passes without being molested by Casella’s lobbyist machine, much more needs to be done to address New Hampshire’s systemic waste management problems.

HB 1429 has potential to do great good or even greater harm. Casella is hard at work with its team of lawyers and lobbyists trying to derail and distort the bill to suit their needs. New Hampshire cannot afford to let this happen! Enough is enough, now is the time for Governor Lynch, the state Legislature and Department of Environmental Services to fix our state’s broken waste management system.

Casella may have money, an army of lawyers, lobbyists, PR firms and the attorney general’s office working for them. The only thing I have to offer is the truth.

Seth Goldstein

Categories: Cook on Concord