U.S. ACOE Permit Information

A New Section 404 Permit Application Has Been Submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


One of the major permits required for the proposed landfill is a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to allow the installation of the liner in Gregory Canyon. The Section 404 permitting process began in 2010, and a draft environmental impact statement (“DEIS”) was issued in December of 2012. You can access the DEIS by clicking here.  

Numerous comments were submitted on the DEIS by Tribes, government agencies, environmental and community groups, and private individuals.

But after the former Section 404 permit applicant failed to provide information to respond to the comments on the DEIS, and failed to pay the Army Corps’ consultant preparing the DEIS, the Army Corps withdrew the permit application in April of 2014.

In September of 2015, GCL, LLC, the new owner of the Gregory Canyon property, filed a new Section 404 permit application.  The Pala Band, the City of Oceanside, County Supervisor Dave Roberts, the Environmental Health Coalition, and other opponents filed comments on the new application during the comment period. 

What the numerous comments submitted on the project show is that it would cause irreparable harm to the environment, threaten critical water supplies, and desecrate sacred, cultural sites.

Critically, the comments also show that, based on publicly available data from CalRecycle, there is sufficient landfill capacity in the County and adjacent areas for decades and that the amount of waste being disposed in landfills is decreasing due to recycling.  The comments also show that new laws will require further reduction in the land disposal of organic and other wastes to address greenhouse gas reductions.  These data confirm that the proposed landfill is not needed and that its approval would not be in the public interest.  The Army Corps must consider the public interest in determining if a permit should be approved.

The comments also make clear that there are on-site alternatives to the proposed landfill that would avoid the canyon and sacred sites.  Specifically, the construction of an anaerobic digestion/composting facility on the site described in the Pala Band’s comments, or a similar non-landfill project on or off the site, would satisfy the expressed “waste management” purpose of the proposed landfill, but would avoid impacts to waters of the United States.  That makes such an alternative project the “least environmentally damaging practicable alternative” (“LEDPA”) under the Clean Water Act.  The Army Corps can only approve a Section 404 permit for a project that is the LEDPA.

The 2015 comments also pointed out that the Army Corps’ January 2014 letter to the applicant had identified significant problems with the information included in the DEIS that was provided for public comment.  The information that was not included, and the long delay since the DEIS was issued for public comment (nearly four years), warrants the preparation of a supplemental DEIS for further public review and comment. A supplemental DEIS should be prepared before a Final EIS is prepared.

The Army Corps also has begun the consultation process with interested Native American Tribes under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  That consultation is required because the proposed landfill would cause direct impacts to Gregory Mountain, Medicine Rock, and other sites which are eligible for listing on the National Register and which have cultural significance to the Tribes.