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Dallas Waste Haulers Settle with City, Can Dump Where They Want

Several waste haulers and the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) will settle a long-standing waste flow control lawsuit against the City of Dallas that dates to 2011; the settlement means that these haulers can dispose of the waste they collect in Dallas at a location of their choosing, including their own facilities located outside Dallas.

The city passed an ordinance in September 2011 mandating that all waste collected inside its borders go to the city’s McCommas Bluff Landfill. NSWMA, joined by several other parties, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ordinance, saying it violated federal and state constitutional principles and city law.

The settlement makes permanent an October 2012 injunction issued by Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor barring enforcement of the ordinance. That ruling stated that the city’s actions violated the Contract Clause of the US Constitution as well as Texas state law and the Dallas city charter. The court determined that the city enacted the law for economic gain “at the expense of the franchisees’ rights and that was an unreasonable exercise of its police powers.”

Tom Brown, senior vice president and COO of Progressive Waste Solutions in Fort Worth and chair of NSWMA’s Texas Chapter, says the settlement “preserves competition for waste disposal and recycling services in Dallas. City businesses and residents will be the beneficiaries of this agreement as it assures a competitive marketplace.”

As part of the settlement, it was agreed that no flow control law would be applicable to the parties to the lawsuit until 2029.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told council colleagues (via the Dallas Morning News) just before the final vote was taken: “This is a business revenue issue. Who deserves that revenue? Should it be the owners of the landfills outside the city of Dallas or the taxpayers? That’s the fundamental issue. I am going to vote for the taxpayers. I believe everyone, if you live in Dallas or have a business in Dallas, deserves that money and not a private enterprise, and I hope we’re aligned on that.”

In addition to the NSWMA, parties in the settlement include Bluebonnet Waste Control, Inc., IESI Corp., Republic Services Inc., Waste Management Inc., Businesses Against Flow Control, and the city of Dallas, writes Waste 360.

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