Environment, Legislature

Complaint: Lawmakers could be sued over leachate bill because their election wasn’t legit

Leachate aerosolization can spray thousands of gallons of wastewater per minute. (Screenshot from Kelly Houston’s leachate aerosolization website)

If lawmakers override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the leachate aerosolization bill, they could open themselves to a lawsuit, according to court documents filed in the Covington redistricting case.

Attached to a legal brief is a declaration and a letter from the Southern Environmental Law Center. It states that since 28 seats in the legislature are the result of an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, the General Assembly has as a whole, “assumed usurper status.” With the 28 seats now in question, SELC contends, the legislature “no longer has the authority to override gubernatorial vetoes.” And nor will it, the court documents read, “until constitutional districts are drawn and legal” and a General Assembly lawfully elected.

One legislator told NCPW that there appears to be enough votes in the Senate to trump Cooper’s veto. A third-fifths majority is required in each chamber to override a veto. In the Senate, that would equal 30 votes; in the House, it take 72.

When the bill was up for its original vote, it passed the Senate 29-14, with four Republicans and two Democrats being absent. The House passed the bill 75-45.

On July 21, Derb Carter Jr. of the SELC sent a letter to Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger. “If the usurper legislature does attempt to override the veto, it opens itself up to litigation,” the letter reads. The matter could go to court where the SELC could ask for a declaratory judgment that the leachate law is “unconstitutional and void.”

House Bill 576 would require state environmental officials to allow landfill owners to use untested technology to dispose of contaminated leachate. Essentially, landfill juice that is currently collected in tanks and hauled offsite would be sprayed from a large snowblower-like apparatus into the air. That raises public health and environmental concerns because it’s unclear what types of contaminants would fall onto the landfill itself and what would float downwind. Last year, the inventor of the technology, Kelly Houston, contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Sen. Trudy Wade, who has supported the bill twice in the Senate. Rep. Jimmy Dixon sponsored it in the House.

 

Declaration of Derb Carter SELC by LisaSorg on Scribd

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