Press Release | May 4, 2012

Court Upholds N.C. Law Limiting Location and Size of Landfills

The North Carolina Court of Appeals this week ruled that a 2007 law enacted by the N.C. General Assembly, which put limitations on the location and size of landfills, does not discriminate against out-of-state waste. Waste Industries USA challenged the authority of the North Carolina General Assembly to enact the law. The North Carolina Coastal Federation and N.C. Sierra Club, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, along with the NAACP and Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association intervened in the case to defend the law.

The state law imposes additional restrictions on the size and location of solid-waste landfills, including buffers from environmentally sensitive lands. Waste Industries, USA challenged the state law, claiming it unlawfully prohibited a proposed landfill that the company planned to construct in Camden County. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources denied the permit application for the proposed landfill because it was within buffers established by the law to protect a wildlife refuge and state park.

“The court affirmed the legislature’s authority to act on behalf of residents by protecting our environment and the public health from the adverse impacts of improperly sited and excessively large landfills,” said Chandra Taylor, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“The restrictions on location of landfills enacted by the legislature are vital to protect our most environmentally sensitive lands,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “Without these restrictions, landfills could be located in proximity to parks, wildlife refuges, and gamelands that are used and enjoyed by many of our citizens.”

“This legislation was a compromise and we are pleased the court has upheld the authority of the state to regulate landfills that impact our communities and environment,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Press Contacts

Chandra Taylor-Sawyer

Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Environmental Justice Initiative

Phone: 919-967-1450
Email: ctaylor@selcnc.org