§22C-4-1. Legislative findings and purposes.

The Legislature finds that the improper and uncontrolled collection, transportation, processing and disposal of domestic and commercial garbage, refuse and other solid wastes in the State of West Virginia results in: (1) A public nuisance and a clear and present danger to the citizens of West Virginia; (2) the degradation of the state's environmental quality including both surface and ground waters which provide essential and irreplaceable sources of domestic and industrial water supplies; (3) provides harborages and breeding places for disease-carrying, injurious insects, rodents and other pests injurious to the public health, safety and welfare; (4) decreases public and private property values and results in the blight and deterioration of the natural beauty of the state; (5) has adverse social and economic effects on the state and its citizens; and (6) results in the waste and squandering of valuable nonrenewable resources contained in such solid wastes which can be recovered through proper recycling and resource-recovery techniques with great social and economic benefits for the state.

The Legislature further finds that the proper collection, transportation, processing, recycling and disposal of solid waste is for the general welfare of the citizens of the state and that the lack of proper and effective solid waste collection services and disposal facilities demands that the State of West Virginia and its political subdivisions act promptly to secure such services and facilities in both the public and private sectors.

The Legislature further finds that the process of developing rational and sound solid waste plans at the county or regional level is impeded by the proliferation of siting proposals for new solid waste facilities.

Therefore, it is the purpose of the Legislature to protect the public health and welfare by providing for a comprehensive program of solid waste collection, processing, recycling and disposal to be implemented by state and local government in cooperation with the private sector. The Legislature intends to accomplish this goal by establishing county and regional solid waste authorities throughout the state to develop and implement litter and solid waste control plans.

It is further the purpose of the Legislature to reduce our solid waste management problems and to meet the purposes of this article by requiring county and regional solid waste authorities to establish programs and plans based on an integrated waste management hierarchy. In order of preference, the hierarchy is as follows:

(1) Source reduction. -- This involves minimizing waste production and generation through product design, reduction of toxic constituents of solid waste and similar activities.

(2) Recycling, reuse and materials recovery. -- This involves separating and recovering valuable materials from the waste stream, composting food and yard waste and marketing of recyclables.

(3) Landfilling. -- To the maximum extent possible, this option should be reserved for nonrecyclables and other materials that cannot practically be managed in any other way. This is the lowest priority in the hierarchy and involves the waste management option of last resort.

The Legislature further finds that the potential impacts of proposed commercial solid waste facilities may have a deleterious and debilitating impact upon the transportation network, property values, economic growth, environmental quality, other land uses and the public health and welfare in affected communities. The Legislature also finds that the siting of such facilities is not being adequately addressed to protect these compelling interests of counties and local communities.

The Legislature further finds that affected citizens and local governments often look to state environmental regulatory agencies to resolve local land-use conflicts engendered by these proposed facilities. The Legislature also finds that such local land-use conflicts are most effectively resolved in a local governmental forum where citizens can most easily participate in the decisionmaking process and the land-use planning values of local communities most effectively identified and incorporated into a comprehensive policy which reflects the values and goals of those communities.

Therefore, it is the purpose of the Legislature to enable local citizens to resolve the land-use conflicts which may be created by proposed commercial solid waste facilities through the existing forum of county or regional solid waste authorities.