OCTOBER TERM, 1991
certiorari to the supreme court of alabama
No. 91-471. Argued April 21, 1992—Decided June 1, 1992
Petitioner, Chemical Waste Management, Inc., operates a commercial hazardous waste land disposal facility in Emelle, Alabama, that receives both in-state and out-of-state wastes. An Alabama Act imposes, inter alia, a fee on hazardous wastes disposed of at in-state commercial facilities, and an additional fee on hazardous wastes generated outside, but disposed of inside, the State. Petitioner filed suit in state court, requesting declaratory relief against respondent state officials and seeking to enjoin the Act's enforcement. The trial court declared, among other things, that the additional fee violated the Commerce Clause, finding that the only basis for the fee is the waste's origin. The State Supreme Court reversed, holding that the fee advanced legitimate local purposes that could not be adequately served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives.
Held: 1. Alabama's differential treatment of out-of-state waste violates the Commerce Clause. Pp. 339-349. (a) No State may attempt to isolate itself from a problem common to the several States by raising barriers to the free flow of interstate commerce. Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U. S. 617; Fort Gratiot Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, post, p. 353. The State Act's additional fee facially discriminates against hazardous waste generated outside Alabama, and the Act has plainly discouraged the full operation of petitioner's facility. Such a burdensome tax imposed on interstate commerce alone is generally forbidden and is typically struck down without further inquiry. However, here the State argues that the additional fee serves legitimate local purposes. Pp. 339-343. (b) Alabama has not met its burden of showing the unavailability of nondiscriminatory alternatives adequate to preserve the local interests at stake. See Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U. S. 333, 353. Alabama's concern about the volume of waste entering the Emelle facility could be alleviated by less discriminatory means—such as applying an additional fee on all hazardous waste disposed of within Alabama, a per-mile tax on all vehicles transporting such waste across state roads, or an evenhanded cap on the total ton-Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007