HB212 – Landfill Height – Finally Passes both Houses after some petty back and forth

This ping pong Amendment War Senator Dave McBride is having with State Representative Franklin Cooke over House Bill 212, that originally would have limited industrial landfills in Delaware from exceeding 130 feet, is placing him (McBride) on the side of pollution and polluters in his very own district. Well, the district he is elected to represent, rather than the district he actually lives in. This, on top of trying to change election law earlier this month to benefit incumbents like him who are facing primary challenges this year, reveals a definite change to McBride. He seems more spiteful, and more petty, than ever before.

As we stated earlier this week, House Bill 212, passed the House, 25-14. In the Senate, Senator McBride added an Amendment increasing the cap limit from 130 feet to 140 feet. I wondered whether the reason for that change is that there were already some industrial landfills in Delaware that were already over 130 feet in height. The Senate passed the amendment unanimously, 20-0, and then passed the bill unanimously 20-0.

Since the bill was amended, it needed to return to the House again for a vote on the amended bill. But Cooke was not content to just pass the Senate amended bill. Instead, he introduced and passed an amendment that accepted the Senate height change of 140 feet, but also defined “Industrial landfill” to mean any landsite at which industrial waste is deposited on or into the land as fill for the purpose of permanent disposal.

The Cooke Amendment also stated that “No permit may be granted to any industrial landfill permit applicant who submits an application after January 15, 2020 unless the permit applicant establishes all of the following: 1) the property on which the industrial landfill is or will be located is within an area that is zoned for heavy industrial activity; 2) every point on the property boundary line of the property on which the industrial landfill is or will be located at least ¼ mile from any residence, school, park and hospital, residential community or wetlands; and 3) the health, safety, and welfare of individuals within the area of the industrial landfill will not be impacted by the landfill because of any of the following: Run-off due to heavy rains or other hazardous weather conditions or Pollutants in soil, aquifers, or any water supply.

The Cooke Amendment passed unanimously by a voice vote. And then the House passed the newly amended House Bill 212 unanimously, 38-0

So now the bill is back in the Senate, and McBride introduces a second Senate Amendment that strikes completely all previous House and Senate Amendments, but also changes the original bill completely.

The Second Senate Amendment, in Orwellian and Trumpian fashion, says that the definition of an industrial landfill does not include the disposal of hazardous waste. The Amendment then adds back in a lot of the provisions from the Cooke Amendment relating to the buffer zone and zoning, except for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of individuals who might be impacted from pollution from run-off due to heavy rains or other hazardous weather conditions, or from pollutants in soil, aquifers, or any water supply.

So that was a big fuck you to Delaware residents, including many of McBride’s own constituents in the 13th Senate District, that live near or next to an industrial landfill.

What surprises me about this petty ping pong war between McBride and Cooke is that every member of each chamber, regardless of party, is backing their respective colleague. This isn’t a party war, this is a Chamber war. And who knows how it ends.

Update: here is how it ends: The House this afternoon passed the Senate amended bill with no further amendments. So this is done. McBride won and made the bill worse environmentally, at least from my reading. Someone correct me if I am wrong, if I am wrong. Yet one more reason to defeat him in the primary in September.

And now everyone is making nice. From the House Dem press release:

“Environmental justice means standing up for our communities when their health, safety, and quality of life is under threat. I was concerned when I heard that neighborhoods in my district like West Minquadale were facing the prospect of living next to a landfill almost 20 stories high,” said Rep. Cooke, D-New Castle West. “I’m proud that Sen. McBride and I were able to put forth a bill that not only protects the residents we’re privileged to represent, but provides environmental protections to ensure that any future landfills in the First State are buffered from areas the public uses or other environmentally sensitive areas.”

“Rep. Cooke is to be applauded for hearing the voices of concern in our community and stepping forward with a solution,” said Sen. McBride, D-Hawk’s Nest. “This bill matches that height restriction imposed by New Castle County and provides additional protections that will ensure future private landfills are not a risk to the health of their neighbors. I very much appreciate Rep. Cooke’s work on this issue and was delighted to assist him.”

HOUSE BILL 212 House passed 25-14-2. Senate amended bill and passed 20-0. House amended and passed 38-0. Senate amended again and passed 20-0. Passed House as is on 1/30/2020 and sent to the Governor

DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – Cooke Brown Longhurst Minor-Brown Ennis Lockman Chukwuocha Dorsey Walker Kowalko



YES VOTES – HOUSE — Baumbach Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey Walker Griffith Heffernan Jaques K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Osienski Q.Johnson Seigfried Smyk Viola ||| SENATE — Brown, Cloutier, Delcollo, Ennis, Hansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lockman, Lopez, McBride, McDowell, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Poore, Richardson, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Wilson   NO VOTES – HOUSE — Briggs King Collins D.Short Gray Hensley Michael Smith Morris Postles Ramone Schwartzkopf Shupe Speigelman Vanderwende Yearick||| SENATE — None   ABSENT – Bennett Dukes Bonini


Every member of each chamber votes yes, except for the following:


ABSENTBolden, Morris, Richardson

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

2 comments on “HB212 – Landfill Height – Finally Passes both Houses after some petty back and forth

  1. cassandram

    NCCo signed an law capping the height of landfills at 140 ft. A state law capping all industrial landfills at 130 ft is at odds with that. Does state law take precedence? Because the 130 ft cap could shut down the WM landfill soon.

    • Dustyn Thompson

      The bill as amended is set to cap at 140 feet as well, so no conflict with DRPI current permit applications.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: