At some point, the state Department of Environmental Protection will have to conduct public hearings on the Keystone Landfill's massive expansion plan. That does not mean that local government and civic leaders and environmental activists have to wait to organize opposition to the plan.

State law focuses primarily on a landfill's impact on its host community or communities, environmentally and economically. Keystone is in Dunmore and Throop, so its plan to build a massive garbage mountain primarily will focus on those two communities.

But it is simply incorrect to suggest that the impact is limited to those two communities, especially because the landfill is at the confluence of one of some of the region's major highway systems - Interstates 81, 380 and 84 and U.S. Route 6, the Casey Highway. That, of course, makes it convenient for out-of-state trucks depositing millions of tons of garbage. But garbage as a growth industry has the opposite effect on the area's image and its prospects for broader economic development.

Lackawanna County Commissioners Corey O'Brien, Jim Wansacz and Patrick O'Malley should get out in front of this issue by signaling their own opposition to the garbage mountain and organizing broader opposition within communities that would be adversely affected.

About 140 jobs are tied directly to the landfill. But Keystone has more than nine years of life remaining under its current permit, during which it will receive about 27 million tons of additional garbage. Local leaders should use those nine years to figure out how to replace those jobs in enterprises more beneficial to the region's environment.

Yes, garbage must be deposited somewhere. But it is disturbing how extensively that "somewhere" is here. It's time for somewhere to be somewhere else, and time for local leaders to stake out that position.