Recent changes in technical requirements for landfill design, mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have led to closing the majority of solid waste landfills in the United States. Efforts to site new landfills have elicited widespread opposition. Based on eight case studies in Alabama, we identify three themes behind this opposition: threats to quality of life, potentially harmful economic impacts, and frustration over representational issues in the process involved in selecting the proposed solid waste facility. These concerns mirror much of the literature on public opposition to landfills and other facilities which pose similar threats to the environment and public health. The incidence of public opposition raises the question of why, when the technical regulations affecting solid waste landfills were updated, no parallel modification of the permit process for such facilities was initiated. In light of concerns expressed in our case studies, we identify a set of suggested modifications that would allow for greater public participation in the siting and permitting process.

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