Good News: Army Corps Will Take a Close Look at Controversial San Diego Landfill Project

The 300-acre riverfront garbage dump proposed for northern San Diego County that I wrote about earlier this week is raising eyebrows again -- this time in the halls of yet another federal agency that has the power to veto the project.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a document known as a “jurisdictional determination” effectively requiring the proposed landfill to undergo a thorough and comprehensive environmental review before a federal Clean Water Act permit can be issued. This is exactly what needs to happen, and is exactly what EPA called for a little over two weeks ago in its Dec. 28 letter to the Corps.

In a Frequently Asked Questions document posted on its website, the Corps said that the project does not qualify for a so-called “nationwide permit” -- a fast-track process the landfill proponents have advocated for -- that would have ignored many critical environmental concerns and eliminated public participation completely.

Requiring a standard individual permit instead of a nationwide permit is a solid first step, but we’re only halfway there. This project requires -- and EPA has called for -- a full environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act. Only a legally adequate EIS can properly address the significant impacts on ecological and cultural resources that this project poses -- impacts that simply cannot be fully mitigated and would result in irreparable damage if the landfill were to move forward unchecked.

Considering what’s at stake -- the possible desecration of sacred tribal lands and contamination of the San Luis Rey River and its watershed -- these steps are not only necessary and legally required, but are essential to ensuring the region’s natural resources remain the utmost priority well into the future.