Landfill flackery

Aside from an outright typo that says the four new mega-landfills would add 126 tons of capacity, this morning’s story about the landfill lobbying gets a few things wrong. The story doesn’t even mention that the Brunswick County landfill would be shredded auto “fluff” not garbage or that the county is lobbying against that dump. The whole end of the story is very much the WMX party line unchallenged.

The counties have already given preliminary approval to the landfill facilities. Greg Peverall, a consultant for Waste Management, said the permitting process in North Carolina is “a very thorough, complicated process that involves all interested parties.”

Wrong. Brunswick is fighting this like mad. The process shuts out citizens at a very early point. Very few counties have the kind of zoning rules and resources necessary for a thorough review and solid public input. (audio of Brunswick official at  Senate hearing)

“These counties have had ample public input,” Peverall said. “They clearly understand the overall story of environmental integrity of modern landfills.”

Ask the people in Brunswick or Camden or neighboring areas if they had ample input. Here we go with the modern landfill argument.

Over the past 13 years, companies have replaced about 130 unlined landfills with about 40 modern landfills each with a 4- to 6-foot liner to prevent any leaking, according to Waste Management. That liner contains two feet of specialized clay, a dense layer of plastic and a piping system to properly dispose of wet waste.

This paragraph really should have quoted the lobbyist. Note the unattributed use of the word “modern”–a pet term of Mr. Peverall and the industry. Modern=good, trustworthy, up-to-date. (audio of Peverall in a Senate hearing.)

“We’ve already made the quantum leap in the environmental integrity of North Carolina landfills,” Peverall said.

Because they had to. The industry and most counties and towns were forced to “modernize” their landfills because they were threats to public health. Good of them to claim credit. 

North Carolina residents dispose of about 11 million tons of solid waste each year, according to estimates from the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the state has a remaining capacity of about 19 years.

If it does nothing about recycling or other waste reduction efforts.

The four proposed sites would add space for about 126 tons of trash.

Uh, I think ya missed a few zeroes. 

About that mega-landfill on the Cape Fear

Comparison.jpg

This morning, the AP picked up a story saying Speaker Jim Black says only about a dozen Democrats oppose the landfill moratorium. He mentions concern, though, about the loss of the economic boost a facility might bring. This is exactly why we need a time out to take a good look at these projects and the rapidly growing international waste industry in North Carolina.
There are massive economic development choices and jurisdictional decisions to be made as well as the primary decisions about public health and safety. Then there’s the discussion about the suitability of large waste dumps in the tidal regions of our fair state, how to create economic opportunity and the types of industry we want and where. The moratorium is just that–a pause while we think it through.
Navassa’s deal with Hugo Neu, which the speaker brought up, is a good example of all of these factors. Navassa sealed a deal with the auto waste giant to build an auto shredder waste facility in Brunswick County after county officials turned the company down. The town then acquired jurisdiction over the land through satellite zoning. Brunswick County citizens and officials have fought the plan. With the help of Sen. Soles, they succeeded in gaining support in the Senate for a bill that would undo Navassa’s annexation. The metal market got worried. But the bill has sat in the House Rules Committee since the Senate passed it 50-0. The Stop the Dump folks are none too happy with Mickey Michaux (scroll down through the articles page). Cape Fear River Watch and the Wilmington Star are not happy with the House either.
Recently, opponents got a copy of the contract. Apparently, Navassa went pretty cheap–50 cents a ton. We probably ought to talk about that, too.

Here’s the audio from the Senate hearing with Brunswick County’s assistant county manager describing how the deal went down and imploring Senators to pass the moratorium.

Audio: Brunswick County officials support moratorium, oppose landfill at Senate hearing

Illustration from Stop the Dump.

Landfill moratorium in trouble

Hate to harsh y’all’s mellow, but there’s lots of chatter on the landfill moratorium and how a mere 23 lobbyists may succeed in circumventing that 48-to-nuthin’ vote in the Senate and the Speaker’s own call for a vote on the bill.

According to the N&O‘s story, Pryor Gibson and Bill Owens are two big fish that are standing in the way of a vote. To me, this is the ethics story. To wit:
1. House leadership strips landfill provision out of budget saying it’s policy and should be voted on separately.
2. Senate passes landfill moratorium bill.
3. Lobbyists suceed in getting powerful pro-biz Democrats to bottle up provision until the clock runs out.
Of course 5, 6 and 20 are that everybody gets a fat contribution like back on April 14.
The very idea that the counties invited these companies in after due process and hearings is one of the smelliest red herrings anyone’s tossed in the room for a while.
It is just nonsense to propose that the state ought to respect a county’s right to invite half of New Jersey to use its new landfill or a town’s right to say bring it on for a few million tons of Europe’s ground up tires and auto parts.

Here’s some folks to call.
Pryor Gibson, Bill Owens, Mickey Michaux, Jim Black

And, while you’re at it, you Greendogs might want to ask Jerry Meek why a bunch of powerful House Dems are standing in the way of this important environmental bill.

Culpepper, Norris pay a courthouse visit

WRAL and the Charlotte Observer are reporting that Meredith Norris and former Rep. Bill Culpepper were at the Terry Sanford Federal Building this morning.
Culpepper’s lawyer, Joe Cheshire, says his client is not a target but is testifying. Ms. Norris didn’t say. Fancy that.
Dan Kane’s version of this story in the N&O also mentions that Joe Henderson from the state property office was around, too. Now that is really interesting. Henderson is a pretty well-read guy when it comes to the doings of the state.

Indictment rumours have been flying of late. The Char-O says stay tuned. Fer sure.

This week’s column

Shipwrecked.

Here’s the link at the Indy and here’s the text:

Shipwrecked

By Kirk Ross

By all accounts I’ve read, Floyd Lupton was a good man. Lupton, who died in May of last year, was chief of staff for 26 years to Congressman Walter Jones Sr. and the go-to guy for Eastern North Carolina.

According to a tribute written upon his death by the congressman’s son and successor, Read more

Thanks, we’ll be here all week . . .

And all next week. No joke. It’s pretty clears there’s still a ton of work to do. I was reminded yesterday that last year’s technical corrections bill wasn’t passed. Evidently, too many non-technical “corrections.” So that has to be dealt with. Then, there’s this year’s technical corrrections bill, which is always touted in debate as a “real technical corrections bill.” Either way, there’s still a bunch of stuff to do including ethics and lobbying reform (subject of a story that’s coming out today in the Indy), appointments (always a swell time in an election year) and a landfill moratorium. I’m told there is solid support in the House for a moratorium as long as people are convinced it will affect mega-landfills and not, uh, non-mega-landfills.

Speech of the Week — Wilma Sherrill’s farewell

Sherrill’s farewell
With the close of the session comes the farewell speeches of departing legislators and as business drew to a close last week Rep. Wilma Sherrill, who is battling breast cancer, rose to say a tearful good-bye. Sherrill, who undergoes major surgery this week, announced last month that she would not seek re-election after 12 years in the House. The 66-year old Buncombe County Republican, a party maverick and a key budget negotiator, has been candid about the seriousness of her diagnosis. She was commended by her colleagues for her work in passing child care and domestic violence legislation and her dedication in seeing through this session. Here’s a story about the moment from the Citizen-Times.
Audio: Rep. Wilma Sherrill says farewell to the House