The state of North Dakota has named a new publicly-owned landfill after President Barack Obama.
In an overwhelming 35-10 vote, the state Senate advanced a bill naming a 650-acre site currently under construction after the nation’s 44th president. Governor Jack Dalrymple is expected to sign the measure into law Tuesday.
When completed, the Barack Obama Memorial Landfill will be the largest waste disposal site in North Dakota, and the 17th largest in the United States. It will be especially rich in toxic waste from the local petroleum and medical industries.
“We wanted to do something to honor the president,” says Republican State Senator Doug Perlman, who was the lead sponsor of the bill. “And I think a pile of garbage is a fitting tribute to Obama’s presidency.
“We originally planned on naming it after a nearby mountain. But then someone jokingly suggested we name it after Obama. I never thought an idea like that would actually pass. But I was pleasantly surprised.”
The president is hardly popular in North Dakota. The most recent poll in December 2013 found that Obama has a 35% approval rating in the state, although that figure may have fallen further in the year since. Yet even considering the political climate, seasoned observers are surprised that two Democratic lawmakers voted for the bill’s passage.
“I supported Obama because I thought he would end the wars in the Middle East;” says Allison Mitchell, a progressive Democrat from Grand Forks. “But he decided to fight new wars abroad instead of fighting for single-payer health care and jobs here at home.
“I guess people expected me to oppose this landfill thing because I’m a Democrat. But honestly I don’t really care anymore. Maybe this small act of protest will wake him up.”
Ordinary citizens in the state also seem to approve of the government’s choice.
“I can’t think of a better name,” says Joe Blough, a plumber from Minot. “It’s darkly colored and it's full of shit. That pretty much sums up Obama.”