As already described in these pages, meth use and meth labs are resurgent in much of the country. Meth labs use chemicals that are poisonous, caustic, explosive and damaging to the environment. Cleaning them up is both dangerous and expensive (median clean up cost is about $10,000), and the Department of Justice has assisted states in those activities for years.
But from this point forward, states and counties will have to pay to clean up meth labs without federal help.
The DOJ clean up fund was about $20 million annually, which doesn’t sound like much money when you divide it by 50. But that’s not how the federal program allocates its money. States like Rhode Island and Maryland, where meth never took hold, never got the money because they didn’t need it. States like Oregon and Mississippi, which used to have terrible meth lab problems but virtually eliminated them by making 15 cold medicines that contain pseudephedrine prescription-only, also will not greatly miss the federal dollars.
In contrast, states such as Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, which are averaging several meth lab incidents per day, will be financially hammered by the loss of federal funds. County and state officials in those places are understandably dreading the costs they will endure, which is making many of them examine Oregon and Mississippi’s approach more closely.