FAIRFIELD — One of two remaining legal efforts to stop the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion has ended in a way that satisfied expansion advocates and disappointed opponents.
The California Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a case involving Solano County’s now-defunct Measure E, so a lower court ruling stands. It says that the 1984 voter initiative limiting trash importation to county landfills from other areas doesn’t affect the county’s approval of the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion.
Jim Dunbar of Potrero Hills Landfill on Friday said landfill officials never thought the case would rise to a level of state significance warranting California Supreme Court review. The court’s announcement was short, merely saying it had declined to hear the case, he said.
The Sierra Club and the Bay Area group called Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund had hoped the Supreme Court would overturn the lower court decision.
Measure E was still in effect when the county approved the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion, opponents argued. Yet the county didn’t enforce Measure E or take it into account, they said.
Solano County at the time it issue the permit considered Measure E unconstitutional.
Duane Kromm of the Sierra Club on Friday said a larger landfill can degrade Suisun Marsh. Plastic bags in great numbers have blown from the existing landfill into the marsh. The landfill attracts seagulls that can cause problems for ducks and other wildlife, he said.
There’s nothing good for the marsh in having a dump on its edges, Kromm said.
Potrero Hills Landfill officials have disagreed that a larger landfill would cause environmental harm. They have pointed to the various conditions attached to the environmental permits granted for the project.
Kromm blamed the legal defeat on 2012 state legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma,-D-San Francisco, that struck down Measure E and similar laws. The Legislature passed the law and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it. Kromm called the episode a “stinking brew” of garbage money and politics.
Kromm sat on the Solano County Board of Supervisors in 2005 when the board approved the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion. The vote was 3-2, with Kromm voting no. After legal challenges, the board again approved the expansion in 2009.
Attorney Stephan Volker represents the Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund.
“Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court only has time to consider a tiny fraction, less than 3 percent, of the cases in which its review is sought,” Volker said. “It’s inability to take our case doesn’t reflect any views on its merits.”
The Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund has another lawsuit that is still active to stop the landfill expansion. Solano County Superior Court Judge Paul Beeman in December 2012 ruled the Bay Conservation and Development Commission had to vacate its Suisun Marsh permit, which is needed for the project.
Waste Connections, the owner of Potrero Hills Landfill, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission appealed that decision to the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The case has yet to be heard.
Dunbar said that the Bay Conservation and Development Commission permit case is the last of several lawsuits aimed at stopping the landfill expansion.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.