Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed legislation that would allow landfills to collect the contaminated liquid that leaks from the trash and shoot it up into the air over the dump with giant blowers.
Cooper also signed several measures into law, including the so-called "brunch bill" that loosens North Carolina alcohol regulations, including allowing restaurants to serve liquor before noon on Sundays with local approval.
House Bill 576 requires the state Department of Environmental Quality to approve permits for the landfill aerosolization process.
Backers say the water will evaporate during the spraying process, while any contaminants in the liquid will form larger droplets and fall back onto the landfill. But critics, who derogatorily called the spray "garbage juice," say there's not enough evidence that the process is safe, especially for neighborhoods surrounding landfills, where they worry the spray could drift.
"In this bill, the legislature exempts particular technologies that could potentially better ensure the health and safety of people and the environment," Cooper said in a statement. "Scientists, not the legislature, should decide whether a patented technology can safely dispose of contaminated liquids from landfills."
Environmental groups cheered Cooper's decision.
"Allowing companies to spray potentially toxic garbage juice back into the air that North Carolinians breathe is appalling, especially when lawmakers could not point to any peer reviewed scientific evidence showing this process was safe," Dan Crawford, director of governmental relations with the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement.
The General Assembly adjourned its session early Friday, but lawmakers said they plan to return on Aug. 3 to take up any veto overrides.
Meanwhile, Cooper signed five bills into law.
Senate Bill 155 gives cities and counties the option of allowing alcohol sales starting at 10 a.m. Sundays. Current law prohibits sales before noon.
The Carrboro Town Council has already scheduled a meeting for Monday night to vote on starting Sunday morning alcohol sales there.
The bill also includes provisions to benefit craft brewers and distillers statewide, such as allowing free tastings at special events and selling up to five bottles of liquor a year to anyone who tours a distillery.
Other bills signed into law would make it a crime to vandalize firefighting or emergency equipment, expand bonuses for some teachers, allow school districts to hire college faculty to teach classes and require the Secretary of State's Office to compile annual reports on veteran-owned businesses.