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NY state senator says Ontario recycling program violates NAFTA

The Toronto Star reports that, “A cross-border garbage war is brewing over an ambitious Ontario effort to recycle 12 million used tires and kick-start the creation of green jobs. The Ontario Used Tire Program might help save the planet, but American business owners and New York state legislators argue the province’s plan unfairly subsidizes Canadian-based firms, could cost ‘hundreds’ of American jobs and compromise the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

“Starting Sept. 1, an Ontario group (Ontario Tire Stewardship) will use an estimated $22 million taken from (a provincial government charge on) the sale of new tires to run the tire-recycling program and offer financial incentives for entrepreneurs to get involved and set up businesses. Currently, about 4 million of Ontario’s used tires are sold to the United States and Quebec for processing. The tires can be made into other rubber products, such as rubber mats and Astro Turf, or they can be burned for fuel.”

“New York state Senator Antoine Thompson (a Democrat) said U.S. firms will close (as a result of this program) and jobs will be lost…The $22 million to be collected annually amounts to an unfair subsidy, he said. He has taken his concerns to Canadian consular officials and hopes the federal government will step in to work things out…’I am concerned we have a level playing field,’ Thompson said. ‘But the issue becomes another NAFTA problem. If you have an industry like this that is heavily subsidized by the Canadian government, it puts the U.S. at an economic disadvantage.’ Thompson is head of New York state’s environment conservation committee. He hopes compromises can be made. If not, New York could stop accepting Canadian garbage. ‘The U.S. brings in a lot of Canadian garbage,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to get pushed where we have to pass a law to stop bringing Canadian garbage to New York.’”

“Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen is undeterred by American angst. He argues it is the right thing to do. ‘This is the environmental way to go,’ Gerretsen said. ‘Business decisions are going to be made north of the border and south of the border. Our preference is to set up good, clean Ontario businesses to look after the recycling and reusing of materials in the province.'”

The full article can be read at http://www.thestar.com/article/624318.