The AD Lawsuit You May Not Know About

Editors Note: Have you heard about the pending lawsuit challenging City of San Leandro and Alameda County Waste Management Authority’s CEQA approval of the proposed Waste Management of Alameda County Mixed Waste Anaerobic Digestion facility? If built, the facility will have a huge impact on how discards are handled in Alameda County – and this region, for decades to come. Is the digestion of mixed waste the highest and best use of these discards? Does this approach qualify as Zero Waste? Could that money be better spent on outreach and public education? Why hasn’t this been covered by the press? This is an issue that NCRA members should be discussing, debating and perhaps considering joining in the lawsuit.

By Arthur R. Boone, Center For Recycling Research and Total Recycling Associates
Petitioners Stein and Boone filed a lawsuit in late April challenging the CEQA duties of the parties. After finding counsel in early May, the petition  was rewritten and filed in early August. There is no pre-trial discovery but simply analysis of the administrative record to find (or oppose those findings) in the petitioners’ complaint. The moving parties filed their briefs at the end of October, citing many shortcoming in the proceedings. (Due to the high cost of pre-paid counsel, Boone withdrew from the Stein-led lawsuit in late October and filed his own brief.)  Defendants briefs are due December 10th (although not released at press time, saying no doubt that they followed CEQA exactly) with the petitioners having a chance to rebut any arguments by January 10th before the show-down before the judge on January 30th.

The most interesting arguments against the proceedings are that:
1) City of San Leandro and Alameda County Waste Management Authority voted on two different proposals.
2) Defendant Waste Management of Alameda County changed its plans with inadequate documentation.
3) The various approving agencies failed to consider a “no project” alternative before starting their approval processes.
4) Alameda County’s ban on incineration includes gas produced from waste materials that is burned for energy, even though the facility is located within the City of San Leandro and not on county land, and
5) The changed status of the project’s area (a piece of the Davis Street Transfer Station) by adding a definition of non-attainment to the air in that space between the projects first light (2011) and its final approval (2017) is a “changed circumstance” which under CEQA would require more staff work.