November 19, 2015
It mattered! The recent ruling in Waller County wherein the TCEQ returned Green Group’s landfill permit application as deficient was enough to persuade the majority of our County Commissioners to stop negotiation of the Host Agreement and to remain a party in the contested case hearing.
At the November 9, 2015 Commissioners Court meeting, Commissioner Munoz stated: “The TCEQ ruling of Waller County has caused me to have concerns that similar mistakes have been made here in Caldwell County. I feel that the contested hearing is the best way to insure accuracy of the permit application in Caldwell County… I think we need to stop this process and let us continue with the contested hearing.”
This was the right decision. Green Group’s actions in Waller County exposed them as an organization that warrants scrutiny. It would be foolish and dangerous to bargain with an organization with a track record of bad business practices at the federal, state and county levels.
Wayne Lesser, who served for five years on the State Bar of Texas Judiciary Committee, said he has been called upon to discipline lawyers who failed to recognize the pitfalls of “contracts designed to offer small monetary inducements in order to secure protection from substantial monetary liabilities in the future.” Lesser said the proposed Host Agreement reeks of these intentions and tactics.
Lesser continued: “What we have here is… a bad-faith Host Agreement that… obligates Caldwell County to defend the activities and effects of the eventual mega-landfill owner against the protest of its own citizens against bad business practices, pollution, toxic materials, and traffic congestion. So what we have here is… an ethically discredited organization — Green Group Holdings — whose misrepresentation of significant facts and destruction of important documents forced the TCEQ, after a huge investment of its resources in facilitating the permitting process, to withdraw its support.”
Local resident Tom Schaeffer, who spoke in favor of the landfill, based his opinion on his understanding that the landfill industry is highly regulated by the EPA. However, Danny Kohler corrected him stating: “Unfortunately… the EPA has nothing to do with approving this landfill. TCEQ operates in their capacity as the environmental agency for the State of Texas and they are the sole people who get involved.”
Schaefer also stated he had seen “thousands and thousands of signs around the county that said ‘Bump the Dump,’” but then later said, “Most people really don’t have an opinion… they don’t care one way or the other.” Obviously most people in Caldwell County DO have an opinion and so much so, the presence of thousands of “No Landfill” signs (and phone calls) persuaded the majority of our commissioners to stop landfill negotiations. Commissioner Munoz: “Since we began talking about the host agreement, an overwhelming number of Caldwell County residents have started to voice their opposition – as opposed to those who are for the landfill.”
To those who have voiced opposition to the landfill – great job! Your voices were heard and it mattered!