Our fight continues in austin!
NEXT STEPS IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Contrary to what you may have heard from the developer, Rancho Viejo Waste Management’s application for the Pescadito dump has not been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and we are still in position to stop this abomination dead in its tracks.
The fight has moved to Austin, where the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) will hear sworn evidence from qualified parties directly affected by the dump in July. Our years-long battle to protect our community against toxic waste has moved beyond mere public comments and questions with hypothetical and contradictory answers to the contested case hearing phase. The dump developer will now be put to its proof and must conclusively address the hard questions
regarding the viability and safety of this ill-conceived project with credible evidence, real science and sworn testimony.
SOAH in Austin operates like a court and a judge will hear arguments and evidence why this planned dump is too dangerous to be allowed.
Webb County officials now have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reevaluate flood maps from the area to see just how dangerous tons of waste at the proposed Pescadito site will be. We learned important lessons from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and most recently Hurricane Florence, where a coal ash dump collapsed in the wake of widespread flooding.
When the hard rains come (and they will), what will happen to the thousands of tons of toxic waste the developer intends to dump at the low lying Pescadito dump site?
TCEQ has already rejected a planned landfill in Waller County because the science wasn’t right. However, the Waller County application was nowhere near as scientifically flawed as the one for the Pescadito dump.
Rancho Viejo’s track record is not good. The TCEQ staff has documented hundreds of deficiencies in their dump application over the years. The inconsistencies, errors and falsehoods promoted for years by Rancho Viejo will be exposed in the July hearing.
In July, lawyers for the opposition will have two weeks at the SOAH hearing to show the dangers to the floodplain, the groundwater and our precious Rio Grande, and expose the truth about Rancho Viejo Waste Management’s plan to bring hazardous materials into our community. Lawyers will also have the opportunity to put the developers and their engineers under oath and cross-examine them on the witness stand.
After July’s hearing, the SOAH Judge or Judges will render their decision. In legal language, they call it a “Proposal for Decision,” where the Judges summarize the evidence, compare it to the TCEQ rules and then make a recommendation whether the permit should be granted or denied.
SOAH’s recommendation is not the final word, just a recommendation. But it carries a lot of weight with the TCEQ Commissioners, who make the ultimate decision.
Once they receive the recommendation, TCEQ Commissioners are required to hold a formal public hearing in Austin. That likely will not happen before the fall of 2019.
This has been a long struggle. We are grateful to the tens of thousands who signed our petition and submitted public comments to the TCEQ in opposition to the dump. The Pescadito permit application process dragged on for seven years before it was ever sent to SOAH. In fact, it has dragged on so long that one of the TCEQ engineers reviewing the application has now retired.
Citizens Against Laredo Landfill (CALL) and other groups will continue the fight: investigating the people who are pulling the strings behind the proposed Pescadito dump and keeping Rancho Viejo’s paid lobbyists under a microscope every step of the way.
And we will keep digging until we bury this dump application once and for all.
THE FIGHT MOVES TO AUSTIN!
The public comment period on this permit application has now ended.
Our sincere thanks to the thousands of you who have joined us in this epic struggle. Special thanks to you who signed our petition or submitted a comment to TCEQ, either in person at the May 1 public meeting or online.
OUR FIGHT IS NOT OVER! CALL WILL FIGHT THIS ABOMINATION TO THE BITTER END, AND URGE YOU TO STAND WITH US!