Plans to move in a new neighbor next to Joshua Tree National Park were stalled when a southern California appeals panel ruled to temporarily halt development of what would be the largest nonhazardous solid waste landfill in the nation.
The proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill would draw trains from Los Angeles County with an estimated 20,000 tons of waste each day for 117 years. The total capacity of the proposed landfill, an abandoned iron ore mine, is approximately 708 million tons.
For two decades, Ontario-based Kaiser Ventures Inc. has been fighting to develop the 4,654 acres surrounded on three sides by the park and located one-and-a-half miles from Joshua Tree.
Mark Cipra, the California desert program manager with the National Parks Conservation Society (NPCS), called the ruling “a landmark victory for Joshua Tree National Park’s bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the 1.3 million people who come here every year to enjoy our beloved national park.”
Kaiser Ventures acquired the land during a swap with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 1997. MSNBC reports that two jojoba farmers sued to stop a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deal necessary for the development 20 years ago.
The NPCS later joined the case. This panel upheld a lower court’s ruling that the BLM’s appraisal of the land was not accurate because it did not take the future use of the land as a lucrative landfill into consideration.
Kaiser Ventures and the BLM now have the option of appealing the decision to the full appeals court.