Much like the rest of the world, landfill companies have been feeling the economy's pinch. Nix was there to help.
Urged on by an army of lobbyists, the west Georgia Republican wanted to repeal a 1996 ban to allow landfills to accept yard waste – basically, the leaves and grass clippings you bag up and leave on the curb. Supporters tried to pass off the measure as a way to generate more clean bioenergy – by collecting methane from decomposing organic material – but it was basically a legislative greenwash. Put simply: The more stuff people dump in a landfill, the more cash the landfill makes in dumping fees.
In addition to recycling buffs and environmentalists, Nix's bill enraged businesses that had created a thriving market using the discarded the yard clippings to make mulch, compost and erosion-control products. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed concerns, saying the bill would undo years of recycling gains, send more than a million tons of reusable yard waste to be buried, and slide-tackle a growing green industry. And the estimated benefit for the landfills? Based on recent tipping fees, they'd earn approximately $30 million a year.
Nix's bill passed on the final night of the legislative session. But breathe easy – by that point, it was neutered and stripped almost beyond recognition.