Pintail Landfill – Waller County

What transpired in Waller County, Texas between Green Group Holdings and Waller County officials is what political thrillers are made of.  Not only was it determined Green Group illegally met with the county judge and two county commissioners behind closed doors, but in an unprecedented move, the TCEQ returned Green Group’s landfill permit application.

The following was taken from the “Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead” (CALH) Facebook page:

UPDATE: CALH and TCEQ File Responses in Pintail’s First Lawsuit Against TCEQ

On Friday, December 1, 2017, after requesting and being granted a 2-week extension, CALH and the Attorney General’s Office, representing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), filed timely responses to Pintail Landfill’s initial brief in their lawsuit against TCEQ over the return of their second failed landfill application. In their lawsuit, Pintail has alleged that the TCEQ should have found the City of Hempstead’s and Waller County’s landfill siting ordinances invalid and continued to process their second application. As you will know, both ordinances were in place before the filing of the second partial application, and it is undisputed that both ordinances prohibit municipal solid waste disposal at the site.

The AG’s Office, representing the TCEQ, makes three main points in their 55-page response brief to counter Pintail’s claims in their lawsuit. First, the AG states that the TCEQ has no statutory legal authority to invalidate local government ordinances and such ordinances are presumed to be valid. Rather, their authority is limited to considering only a few issues, most importantly whether the ordinances are applicable to a particular site.

Second, the AG argues that Pintail’s Transfer Station Registration, which was either pending or granted before the two ordinances were passed, does not grandfather the landfill application as claimed by Pintail. The AG cites the distinction between very different activities (processing versus disposal) which have very different risks to human health and the environment, and very different requirements and opportunities for public participation to obtain the authorization. Further, even if such grandfathering were permissible, the land size involved in a transfer station operation is just a little over an acre, not enough to accommodate a landfill. In addition, the AG states, Pintail’s first landfill application, which had yet to be returned and was still pending when the ordinances were passed, would not grandfather the second application. This was Pintail’s “snapshot in time” argument and the AG’s Office found it meritless and cited supporting case law to that effect.

Third, the AG states that the TCEQ has no long-standing policy or rule, as claimed by Pintail, whereby a “metes and bounds” description must be included in landfill siting ordinances. The AG also accuses Pintail of using as supporting evidence “ambiguous cherry-picked statements” from a garbled transcript of a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting from over a decade ago where a TCEQ staff member engaged in informal discussions with the Commissioners Court. The AG further commented “On that slender reed rest Pintail’s remaining points of error concerning changes in longstanding policy and promulgations of newly invalid rules. In short, the agency did not have a longstanding policy.”

CALH’s 68-page response brief is equally forceful and includes an excellent discussion on the history of the entire Pintail landfill saga which provides a useful background for the Court’s perspective. Although lengthy, we encourage you to read through both of these response briefs which can be found at the following links on our website:

http://stophwy6landfill.com/…/17-120117-TCEQ-Response-Brief…

http://stophwy6landfill.com/…/17-120117-CALH-Response-to-Pi…

Due to the deadline extension given to the AG/TCEQ and CALH, Pintail’s deadline to file a reply brief is now Friday, December 22, 2017.

As we have reported previously, this lawsuit will take place in Travis County District Court in Austin and we can now confirm that the date scheduled for the hearing on the merits will be Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 2:00 pm.

We will keep you informed as developments occur.

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Commissioner:  Waller County Landfill Plan is “Dead”
Houston Chronicle
February 10, 2016
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Landfill-proposed-for-Waller-County-site-is-6821687.php

In Unusual Rebuke, State Environmental Agency Rejects Landfill Bid
My Statesman
October 9, 2015
http://www.mystatesman.com/news/unusual-rebuke-state-environmental-agency-rejects-landfill-bid/VSCTqBlzuE09L4JIOSu8vK/

Waller County Residents Celebrate Victory After TCEQ Returns Application for Landfill
KBTX-TV
October 6, 2015
http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Waller-County-Residents-Celebrate-Victory-After-TCEQ-Returns-Application-For-Landfill-330972752.html

TCEQ Deals Rare Setback to Landfill Company
Austin American-Statesman
October 6, 2015
http://environment.blog.statesman.com/2015/10/06/texas-commission-on-environmental-quality-deals-rare-setback-to-landfill-company/

Developer Admits Plans for Hempstead Landfill Are Flawed
Houston Chronicle
August 10, 2015
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Developer-admits-plans-for-Hempstead-landfill-are-6433270.php

Pintail Tries to Duck Application / Pintail Admits its Application Does Not Comply With TCEQ Rules
The Times Tribune (The Voice of Waller County)
August 6, 2015
http://stophwy6landfill.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Times-Tribune-Pintail-Tries-To-Duck-Application.pdf

Alarming Findings on Proposed Pintail Landfill Landfill Site
July 22, 2015
http://stophwy6landfill.com/news/proposed-waller-county-landfill-site-video/

Waller Co. Leaders Pledge Transparency After Landfill Verdict
Houston Chronicle
December 21, 2014
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/science-environment/article/Waller-Co-leaders-pledge-transparency-after-5972593.php

Jury Verdict Delivers Blow to Waller Co. Landfill Plan
Houston Chronicle
December 18, 2014
http://www.chron.com/news/science-environment/article/Waller-Co-landfill-case-goes-to-jury-5966281.php

Jury:  Waller Co. Commissioners Met Illegally Before Approving Landfill
Houston Chronicle
December 18, 2014
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Jury-Waller-Co-commissioners-met-illegally-5967321.php

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Notice of Deficiency to Green Group Holdings, LLC
May 6, 2014
http://bumpthedumpcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014NOD.pdf

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Notice of Deficiency to Green Group Holdings, LLC
November 25, 2013
http://bumpthedumpcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2013NOD.pdf


by Bliss Drive Review