Appellate Court Weighing Case Against DeKalb Landfill Expansion

Sep 7, 2012

The proposed expansion of the DeKalb County landfill is now in the hands of three appellate court judges.

Attorneys for Waste Management and the citizen’s group “Stop the Mega-Dump” made their cases Thursday before the panel in state appellate court in Elgin. The group challenged the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s approval of the landfill expansion, saying the public input process was flawed.

Waste Management’s attorney Don Moran argued there was no evidence anyone was denied the chance to participate in public hearings about the expansion. He called Stop the Mega-Dump’s case an argument that a “hypothetical person was being discouraged from participating.”

Stop The Mega-Dump’s Mac McIntyre says it’s not fair that only testimony from adjacent property owners is considered or that opponents don’t have deep pockets like Waste Management. He says all along, the company and government officials have disappointed him, showing “disregard for the citizens and the regard only for revenue that has been stated so clearly in this case.”

Dan Kenney is also with Stop the Mega-Dump. He agrees with McIntyre that the court system and landfill-siting process are “stacked in favor of corporations.” Kenney says one of the judges asked an excellent question during Thursday’s oral arguments: “Is this a question of justice or equity?” Kenney chooses “justice,” adding that his group has not had the money to bring in experts and compete with a multi-national corporation like Waste Management. “Stop the Mega-Dump” is taking donations and cashing in aluminum cans to try to cover its legal fees.

A court decision is expected within a few months, with estimates ranging from a few weeks to six months. Meanwhile, Stop the Mega-Dump is planning to hold public meetings about alternatives to landfills, including converting trash into energy. The first of those is expected to take place in mid-October.

"It’s obviously a complicated issue, and I look forward to see what they have to say,” Kenney told the Daily Chronicle. “It’s a justice issue. We want people to be on equal footing with the landfill companies.”

Unedited audio of the oral arguments in "Stop the Mega-Dump v. County Board of DeKalb County" (courtesy of the Illinois Second District Appellate Court):