For Immediate ReleaseDecember 18, 2014
Six years of litigation over landfill expansion comes to end in District Court
San Rafael, CA – A state appellate court has ruled in the County of Marin’s favor in a longstanding case challenging the environmental review process for a 420-acre Novato landfill.
In an opinion dated December 12, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled favorably on all 11 issues brought forth against the County, its Environmental Health Division of the Community Development Agency and Redwood Landfill Inc., dating from the original filing in 2009. The ruling reversed Marin County Superior Court judgment on seven of the 11 issues previously ruled in favor of the petitioners, a group called No Wetlands Landfill Expansion, and upheld the trial court’s judgment on the four issues the trial court ruled in favor of the County.
The challenge focused on the adequacy of an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared under the state’s environmental review statute, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In the case, the petitioners made broad-ranging claims that the EIR didn’t correctly analyze cumulative greenhouse gas emissions and air emissions from landfill operations and that mitigation of potential impacts to groundwater and rising sea levels was inadequate, among other issues. The appellate court ruled that the EIR was adequate and complied with CEQA’s mandate to support informed decisionmaking and protect the environment.
Redwood Landfill, located just east of Highway 101 a few miles north of Novato, has been in operation since 1958. It will continue operations under its 2008 operating permit and pursue expansion plans that include the generation of “green” power and other recycling activities.
“This speaks very well of the County’s approach to environmental review said Osha Meserve, the attorney who represented Redwood Landfill Inc. “The permit revision took 10 years to complete because the thoroughness of the review and extensive public involvement. The process resulted in a great deal of detailed mitigation that is very protective of the environment. The court ruling confirms that the County follows a robust environmental review process and doesn’t cut corners.”
Under the approved project, Redwood Landfill Inc. is constructing a system to convert landfill gas into energy and sell it back to the electrical grid, potentially powering thousands of homes annually with nearly 4 megawatts of electricity at peak capacity. “Redwood is committed to increased resource recovery, from generating electricity from landfill gas to creating compost from food scraps and other organic waste for local farms,” Meserve said.
The lawsuit originated in January 2009 shortly after an operating permit was updated in 2008. No Wetlands Landfill Expansion, formed to oppose the permit revision, also lost a prior appeal regarding a separate procedural issue in 2013.
Marin has a rich history of environmental successes, including a commitment in the 1960s and ‘70s to preserve open spaces and prevent suburban sprawl. Marin was one of the first counties in the state to develop a greenhouse gas reduction plan and has committed to preserving more than two-thirds of its land for open space.
Rebecca NgDeputy Director of Environmental Health ServicesCommunity Development Agency
3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 236San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6907Email: Rebecca NgEnvironmental Health Services