The five panelists sit at a table with the League tablecloth and the League banner behind them. Mark Yeager holds the microphone and gestures as he answers a question.

Five members of the Benton County Talks Trash Workgroup participate in a panel discussion.

In July 2022, upon completion of a Benton County Solid Waste Situational Assessment, it was found that “The last Republic Services Conditional Use Permit process resulted in a great deal of polarization where debate prevailed over exploration, and basic facts were either unknown or contested.” Believing that “common understandings are essential for the ultimate decision-makers to have as they review a future CUP application and Sustainable Materials Management Plan (SMMP)”, the county initiated the formation of the Benton County Talks Trash (BCTT) Work group.

The BCTT Workgroup; consisted of nineteen members and a Benton County project team of thirteen overseen by the three Benton County Commissioners.  The work group represented various community perspectives: the Solid Waste Advisory Council, Benton County Planning Commission, Republic Services national and local, members of the public, neighboring jurisdictions and Benton County Staff.

Benton County Commissioners kicked off the Benton County Talks Trash Workgroup in September 2022, with the goal of the workgroup to “identify and implement a constructive path forward relating to sustainable materials management and the future of solid waste disposal in the Mid-Willamette Valley, including at the Coffin Butte regional landfill.”  The process was designed to serve as a “bridge” between past events and next steps, to develop “common understandings” and recommended protocols for future consideration of solid waste issues,” but never designed to address any future landfill expansion.

Five subcommittees were created to explore and report on the following topics: 

  • Landfill/Size/Capacity and Longevity
  • Legal Issues and Land Use Review
  • Past Land Use Application Conditions
  • Sustainable Materials Management Plan (SMMP)
  • Community Outreach and Education

The subcommittees generated a total of 124 findings and 94 recommendations.  Of these, the full workgroup reached 94.4% consensus on the findings, and 93.6% on recommendations.  “The history portion of the report was not designed to be an advocacy piece but rather to include consensus-based facts and events, and the findings were designed to produce relevant verifiable facts – no speculation or opinion framed as fact.  For the first time, the County has virtually all of the key documents organized and accessible in one place, including both County and DEQ records over the past five decades.”

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