(a) The Legislature finds that litter is a public nuisance and distracts from the beauty of the state and its natural resources. It is therefore necessary to establish and implement a litter control program to coordinate public and private litter control efforts; to establish penalties for littering; to provide for litter pickup programs; to create education programs; and to provide assistance to local solid waste authority litter control efforts.
(b) The Legislature further finds that the improper management of commercial and residential solid waste and the unlawful disposal of such waste creates open dumps that adversely impacts the state's natural resources, public water supplies and the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the state. It is therefore necessary to establish a program to promote pollution prevention and to eliminate and remediate open dumps.
(c) The Legislature further finds that waste tire piles are a direct product of state citizens use and enjoyment of state roads and highways and proper tire waste disposal is a necessary component of maintenance of the transportation system. The accumulation of waste tires has also become a significant environmental and public health hazard to the state and the location and number of waste tires are directly related to the efficiency of travel, by citizens, visitors and of commerce, along public highways in West Virginia. In particular, the Legislature recognizes that waste tires are widespread in location and in number throughout the state; waste tires physically touch and concern public highways, including, but not limited to, state roads, county roads, park roads, secondary routes and orphan roads, all of which interferes with the efficiency of public highways; and further that the existence of waste tires along and near public highways is sometimes accompanied by other hazards and, in turn, adversely impacts the proper maintenance and efficiency of public highways for citizens.
(d) The Legislature also recognizes and declares that waste tires are a public nuisance and hazard; that waste tires serve as harborage and breeding places for rodents, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other insects and pests injurious to the public health, safety and general welfare; that waste tires collected in large piles pose an excessive risk to public health, safety and welfare from disease or fire; that the environmental, economic and societal damage resulting from fires in waste tire piles can be avoided by removing the piles; and that tire pile fires cause extensive pollution of the air and surface and groundwater for miles downwind and downstream from the fire.
(e) Therefore, in view of the findings relating to waste tires, the Legislature declares it to be the public policy of the State of West Virginia to eliminate the present danger resulting from discarded or abandoned waste tires and to eliminate the visual pollution resulting from waste tire piles and that in order to provide for the public health, safety and welfare, quality of life and to reverse the adverse impacts to the proper maintenance and efficiency of public highways, it is necessary to enact legislation to those ends by providing expeditious means and methods for effecting the disposal of waste tires.
(f) The Legislature finds that many citizens desire a recycling program in order to conserve limited natural resources, reduce litter, recycle valuable materials, extend the useful life of solid waste landfills, reduce the need for new landfills, and create markets for recyclable materials. It is therefore necessary to establish goals for recycling solid waste; to require certain municipalities to implement recycling programs; to authorize counties to adopt comprehensive recycling programs; to encourage source separation of solid waste; to increase the purchase of recycled products by the various agencies and instrumentalities of government; and to educate the public concerning the benefits of recycling.
(g) The Legislature finds that the effectiveness of litter control, open dump, tire clean up programs and recycling programs have been made less efficient by fragmented implementation of the various programs by different agencies. It is therefore necessary to coordinate all such programs under one program managed by the Department to ensure that all current and future litter, open dump, waste tire and recycling issues are managed and addressed efficiently and effectively.
(h) This article implements the A. James Manchin Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan, a coordinated effort to address litter, waste, open dump, tire clean up and recycling programs.