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Waste Industries USA, Inc. v. State

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20094
Nos. COA11-246, (N.C. Ct. App., 05/01/2012)

A North Carolina appellate court held that a state statute that places limitations on the size and location of solid waste landfills does not violate the Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state waste. It is undisputed that the statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. §130A-295.6 (2011), does not facially discriminate. In addition, the state General Assembly set out in detail the purposes of the legislation, none of which in any way suggest an intent to discriminate against out-of-state waste. In fact, the plaintiffs—landfill operators—presented only sparse evidence that the General Assembly actually had a hidden purpose of blocking out-of-state waste. Specifically, they pointed to a single remark by one legislator, the presence of senators at a meeting where out-of-state waste was mentioned, and few comments by unnamed legislators in unknown contexts and by mid-level state employees, most of which comments did not specifically relate to the challenged restrictions. This is insufficient to override the General Assembly's articulated objectives and merely shows the statute's effects on solid waste generally and not on out-of-state waste in particular. Because the companies also failed to show that any incidental effects on out-of-state waste outweigh the benefits to the state, the court affirmed the lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the state.