It's trash time at the General Assembly

By Scott Mooneyham | Jun 12, 2013

RALEIGH — Five years ago, when Gov. Pat McCrory made his first bid for the job that he now holds, a sore spot for the then-Charlotte mayor was an ad run by Beverly Perdue accusing McCrory of wanting to turn North Carolina into New York's garbage dump.

"It's trash day in New York City. What will they do with all that garbage? If Pat McCrory becomes governor, that won't be a problem," the ad began.

At the time, McCrory called the ad a lie and deceptive. His protestations served up evidence that it was also something else: effective.

The ad was based on McCrory comments that he would have vetoed a 2007 bill that prevented the opening of a number of private landfills which would have accepted garbage from outside the state.

What the ad didn't say was that McCrory's opposition was based on landfill fees that he felt would have penalized cities within North Carolina that haul their garbage to landfills not under their ownership or control.

Of course, Perdue went on to win that election, a victory helped by portrayals of McCrory as a city slicker with little concern for the interests of the rural East, where most of those landfills would have been constructed.

McCrory may soon find himself revisting the issue of where he stands on out-of-state garbage.

That's because the state Senate, in a stealth move recalling the height of slick Democratic maneuvers influenced by pay-to-play politics, appears poised to undo much of that 2007 law that prevented North Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for the Northeast.

The legislation that would do the deed was unveiled in a Senate committee last week when another bill was gutted so that it could be used as a vehicle for the new language. In other words, the public had no chance to see this new bill until it popped out in the committee meeting.

The bill would remove or severely limit most of the buffer requirements established in the 2007 law that kept major landfills away from state waters and preserved areas. It would also triple landfill permitting periods and allow the piles of garbage to rise another 50 feet above the horizon.

One of the more bizarre aspects of the legislation is that it does this, in part, by repealing new landfill permitting rules just adopted by state senators.

In something that I cannot recall occurring in 16 years of covering the North Carolina General Assembly, the bill would have the Senate repeal another bill -- not yet acted upon by the House -- that senators themselves overwhelmingly approved only on May 8.

I suppose an innocent explanation would be that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

But there isn't a whole lot of innocence to be found at the General Assembly.

Something smells.

It's 18 pages of paper that belong in a garbage dump.