Skip to main content

Podcast Classroom Guide: Landfills, state parks, and the balance between businesses and the environment

In this podcast episode, Mike Dunbar and Anna Brown discuss the role of state and local government in siting landfills. There’s a clash of private business rights, state powers, and local zoning laws. The episode also dives into the larger issue of waste management in New Hampshire.


Podcast includes 14 minutes about the proposal to ban landfills near state parks, 3 additional minutes of "fun facts" about New Hampshire's "year without a summer," caused by a volcanic eruption.

Key concepts/standards

  • State and local government powers in the location of businesses
    • SS:CV:12:1.1: Identify the structures and functions of government at various levels, e.g., county—role of the sheriff’s office, or nation—role of providing the defense of the country. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
  • Government’s role in conservation and environmental protection
    • SS:CV:12:1.2: Examine how institutions and individuals make, apply, and enforce rules and laws, e.g., the Federal Communications Commission regulations on television broadcast standards or local public hearings on zoning regulations. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change)
    • SS:GE:12:5.6: Evaluate the management and use of renewable, non-renewable, flow and potential resources, e.g., over fishing or recycling. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, D: Material Wants and Needs)
  • Current events: challenge of waste management in New Hampshire and a landfill proposal in Dalton
    • SS:CV:8:3.2: Analyze environmental, economic, and technological developments and their impact on society. (Themes: C: People, Places and Environment, D: Material Wants and Needs, G: Science, Technology, and Society)
    • SS:CV:12:4.2: Investigate how knowledgeable and engaged citizens have acted to preserve and extend their liberties, e.g., writing letters to the editor or participating in town meetings. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation)

Discussion questions

  • Why might communities want to ban landfills near state parks?
  • What are some arguments in favor of allowing landfills near state parks?
  • What are zoning laws? How do they play into the debate over where landfills may be located?
  • Why might a town choose not to have zoning laws? Are zoning laws important, in your opinion? Why?
  • Why would a state ship its garbage to out-of-state landfills? What are the pros and cons of doing this?
  • How could a laws like this one impact other businesses, like dairy farms?
Thank you to our sponsors and donors