“And that’s what she is, the Queen of Refuse. So bow down to her if you want, bow to her. Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence ... Boo! Boo! Boo!”
Those lines from “The Princess Bride” may seem a little harsh as a description of Sen. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford).
Or maybe not.
Currently, Wade is getting trashed for her garbage juice bill that passed in the final days of the legislative session.
But we in Guilford County have long observed her affinity for refuse.
Her love of landfills — or at least deep-pocket donors in the waste industry — began right here in the Gate City.
In 2011, Wade was one of the Greensboro City Council members who strongly advocated reopening the White Street Landfill, which the city closed in 2006 after a long lobbying effort by residents living nearby. (Wade’s first cousin was president of one of the companies bidding on the contract.)
The reopening of the landfill eventually was scuttled when the city attorney cleared then-Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan of any conflict of interest in voting on the issue. Wade was the only council person voting for the reopening who survived the next election. Some believe that stinging defeat led to her enmity for both the City Council and the News & Record, both of which have been targeted by her bills. One thing it did foreshadow was her unbreakable tie to trash.
In her first term as state senator for District 27, in 2013, Wade coordinated with waste-industry representatives on an 18-page bill to loosen restrictions on landfills. This bill reduced the required buffers surrounding landfills, did away with a state environmental assessment, allowed landfills to be built at the edges of state parks, wildlife refuges and gamelands, eased rules on covering trash and containing liquid waste and tripled the term of landfill permits.
When the House Environment Committee chose not to hear her bill, she managed to get most of its contents dumped into House Bill 74 without the required hearing. It would not be the last time Wade bypassed the democratic process to get what she wanted.
One provision in that bill that Wade particularly defended allowed garbage trucks to be leak-resistant instead of leak-proof, meaning that they could dribble garbage juice on the neighborhood streets where your children play. In a rare moment of environmental conscience, then-Gov. Pat McCrory overwrote that provision by executive order.
Last year, she backed bills that would bring electronic waste back to landfills, relax storm-water standards, eliminate energy efficiency standards and restrict state agencies in creating public health and safety rules.
In the N.C. League of Conservation Voters Legislative Scorecard for 2016, she makes her third consecutive appearance in the “Adversaries” section, which begins, “Senator Wade solidifies her reputation as one of the most anti-environmental members of the General Assembly.”
That same organization gives her a stunning lifetime score of 0 on environmental issues. That’s one rotten goose egg.
The editorial staff of the News & Record last year dubbed her “Queen of the Landfills,” “High Priestess of Pollution” and “Grand Dame of the Dumpster” for her dismal environmental record.
But she never seems to run out of rubbish.
What, you might ask, could be worse than allowing landfills and garbage trucks to leak garbage juice?
Allowing landfills to spray garbage juice into the air, where it inevitably would land on adjacent homes and properties.
That’s her latest accomplishment.
House Bill 576 would allow landfills to collect the liquid that leaks from the trash and blast it into the air instead of treating it. In this process, called aerosolization, the water theoretically would evaporate, and the heavier contaminants would fall back onto the landfill. Of course, what goes up doesn’t always come down in the same location.
Wade was a major supporter of that bill, which passed the General Assembly but was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. The General Assembly likely will override that veto when it reconvenes in August.
Trudy Wade simply oozes love for the waste industry. And it loves her right back.
Perennial campaign contributors, dating back to her City Council tenure, have been members of D.H. Griffin Companies. Salvage company founder D.H. Griffin Sr. owned the Wiley Davis Landfill and was a majority partner of Gate City Waste Services, one of three companies that sought to expand the White Street Landfill. In 2016, she received nearly $20,000 from individuals associated with D.H. Griffin Companies.
Kelly Houston of Cornelius, inventor of the aerosolizer technology, contributed $5,000 to Wade’s campaign in June 2016, according to WRAL. Other contributors in that election cycle included managers and executives from Republic Waste; Waste Management; Waste Industries; A1 Sandrock Inc.; EJE Inc., a recycling and landfill company in Greenville; and the Waste Management PAC of Washington, D.C.
Based on her tactics, campaign contributions and voting record, calling her Queen of Refuse, Slime, Filth and Putrescence doesn’t seem that harsh after all.
Boo, Trudy. Boo.