By Gary Lasky
Opponents of the City of Fresno’s residential garbage privatization contract with Mid-Valley Disposal filed a lawsuit in Fresno Superior Court on Jan. 22, alleging that the contract violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
“It appears very clear that the City rushed this decision without full compliance with CEQA,” said Sara Hedgpeth-Harris, a local attorney representing contract opponents.Filing as Fresnans for Clean Air (FRESCA), petitioners are requesting that the court order the City to prepare a full Environmental Impact Report.
CEQA is a state law that requires analysis and public disclosure of the environmental impacts likely to be created by a project, discussion of project alternatives and incorporation of all feasible mitigations that could reduce these environmental impacts. The City filed a Negative Declaration under CEQA, concluding that the contract would create no significant environmental harm.
Although the Mid-Valley contract is not itself an environmental action, it does create indirect impacts on the environment. According to the court filing, these impacts would be created by the additional distance Mid-Valley garbage trucks would need to travel each day. Presently, the City delivers its garbage and recyclables to processing facilities within the city; Mid-Valley would have to haul them 20 miles further to Kerman.
The additional air pollution and traffic impacts from this travel are environmental impacts that fall within the scope of CEQA. These would trigger consultation with the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District.In addition, there is an environmental justice concern because Mid-Valley would be hauling its waste through West Fresno, a neighborhood already burdened with more than its share of waste dumps and the Darling rendering plant.
Gary Lasky is an environmental and community activist in Fresno. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559-790-3495.