Local Politics

Businesses push to end landfill moratorium

Posted July 27, 2007 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A moratorium on opening new landfills in eastern North Carolina expires Tuesday, and environmentalists and business interests are locked in a battle over legislation to extend it.

Senate Bill 1492 would continue a moratorium on new landfills in Camden and Columbus counties and would charge extra dumping fees at other landfills to care for old dump sites. It pits pollution concerns against the need for landfills and the money they bring to communities.

"This bill puts the state on the right track to protect communities, the environment and the taxpayer," said Christa Wagner, government relations director for the North Carolina Sierra Club.

"We need to move forward with the cleanup of those (older) sites. This bill would do that," said Dexter Matthews, director of the state Division of Waste Management.

The bill has cleared the Senate, and waste companies are working hard to block it in the House.

"There's no reason to put the moratorium in effect when the current regulations are adequately protecting the environment. It kicks the can down the road another year and a half," lobbyist David Barnes said.

"We're going to run out of landfill capacity, and we're going to end up having to truck our waste hundreds of miles at a very, very high cost," said Ven Poole, vice president of corporate development for Raleigh-based trash hauler Waste Industries Inc.

Poole called arguments that North Carolina could become a dumping ground "entirely hype."

"There's nothing to indicate the flood gates are all of a sudden going to open," he said.

At one point Friday, members of the House Environment Committee voted the strip the moratorium out of the bill, but supporters quickly adjourned the meeting in hopes of passing it Saturday.

"What troubles me personally is the industry has a vested interest that there be lots of trash," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham. "I think, as a citizen and legislator, we should be reducing trash."