Lovers of Joshua Tree National Park scored a victory this week when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous court decision prohibiting a land exchange needed to develop of a nearly 5,000-acre landfill on an abandoned iron ore mine less than two miles from the park.
The decision in the 22-year-old battle went against the defendants — the Bureau of Land Management, landfill developer Kaiser Ventures, LLC and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County — in favor of environmental groups including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, and the Desert Protection Society.
The plaintiffs had argued that Los Angeles County could just as easily send its proposed 20,000 daily tons of trash — for the next 117 years — to the Mesquite Regional Landfill. Besides, they noted, doesn’t California require the county to recycle half of its waste?
Kaiser Ventures and the BLM can still appeal the decision preventing them from locating what would be one of the nation’s largest landfills on property hemmed in on three sides by Joshua Tree.