- The California Coastal Commission is seeking federal permission to review a proposal for a landfill near the San Luis Rey River, claiming the landfill could leak pollutants into the ground, and seep into the nearby San Luis Rey River, which flows to the Pacific.
- If the request is approved, there would be more studies and public hearings. And a permit could not be issued without the Commission’s approval to move forward, according to Mark Delaplaine of the Commission.
- If the Coastal Commission were to deny the project, the opposition could appeal to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
The heated landfill debate has a long history. The people living on the Pala Indian Reservation, near where it would be installed, have objected development of the landfill since the 1990 project proposal.
"Putting a dump on the San Luis Rey River, which flows into the coastal zone, threatens the plants, animals and people who depend on its waters," said Robert Smith, chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians.
Gregory Canyon LLC, contracted to develop the landfill, says protective liners would prevent any seepage. Further, a company spokesperson questioned the Coastal Commission’s jurisdiction over the project due to the fact that the landfill would be about 20 miles inland.
Delaplaine said while it is "rare" for the Commission to intervene in a project so far from the ocean, it has stepped in before to question dam proposals.
After delays due to legal actions and financial challenges that previously halted permits, the project could remain in limbo for some time; many officials estimate a final decision could be two years away.