Since its formation in mid-2011, Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead (CALH) has been fighting to prevent the Pintail Landfill project, proposed for a 723 acre property called the Rainey Ranch, just one mile north of US 290 on Hwy 6, near Hempstead, Texas.
With the knowledge that this location was the worst possible site for a landfill and with little or no support from the majority of County elected officials, CALH hired first-class experts in the legal and engineering fields to help stop Pintail in various courts of law.
The verdict in our favor in the City of Hempstead/CALH v Waller County/Pintail trial in December 2014, along with the related settlement agreement on February 20, 2015, were important victories for CALH and its supporters. The Appeal to this verdict by past elected officials Beckendorff, Pokluda and Kitzman was dismissed and ultimately court costs were charged to these three.
The Contested Case Hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) began in July of 2014. A year into that process, a site visit by CALH experts and representatives on July 17, 2015, led to the discovery of alarmingly high water table elevations, which had long been warned of by CALH and other protestants. Some had increased by as much as 7 ft. from Pintail’s reported highest measured levels and in fact one monitoring well was spewing water into the air. Click Here to View Article. This discovery eventually forced Pintail to admit that their application was not in compliance with TCEQ requirements and the SOAH Administrative Law Judges remanded the case back to the TCEQ. CALH’s optimism for a just outcome to this battle arrived with a terse letter dated October 5, 2015, from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Director of Waste Permits Division to Pintail Landfill LLC’s Manager and Green Group Holdings President, Ernest Kaufmann, advising that their MSW permit application No. 2377 was being returned. Click Here to View Letter.
More than five months after receiving the TCEQ rejection letter, and using a new law firm, Pintail Landfill LLC submitted a Motion for Review and Reversal, challenging the Executive Director’s authority to return the application and, in effect, asking that it be reviewed by the TCEQ Commissioners. On May 4, 2016, TCEQ’s general legal counsel responded in a brief letter which stated that the TCEQ no longer had jurisdiction to act on this application. Click Here to View Letter
On June 6, 2016, Pintail Landfill LLC purchased the Rainey Ranch 723 acre property on which they had previously only had a 5 year option to buy agreement, and on June 30, 2016, they submitted Parts 1 and 2 of a new landfill application to TCEQ (Application No. 2391). Click Here to View Differences in Pintail’s application 1 and 2. After a Public Meeting on October 25, 2016, attended by hundreds of concerned citizens including a spokesperson for Representative Cecil Bell as well as Senator Lois Kolkhorst herself, Click Here to Watch Video of These Statements, TCEQ returned Pintail’s second application on December 1, 2016, citing local prohibitive ordinances.
Pintail filed suit against the TCEQ, questioning their right to reject this second application. CALH joined TCEQ as Intervenor in the matter and the case, Pintail Landfill LLC vs TCEQ/CALH, was heard on February 22, 2018, in Travis County District Court. A Final Judgment was issued the next day in favor of TCEQ/CALH, affirming the TCEQ’s rejection of Pintail’s second application, although this ruling is appealable.
Our road has taken many twists and turns, often seemingly uphill, but our perseverance and determination have never waned. Thankfully, CALH has not been alone in this fight. The City of Hempstead has been an indispensable ally since very early on and Waller County Commissioners Court has been supportive of this issue beginning in January of 2015 when several newly elected officials took office. However, our greatest asset has always been the people of Waller County and other concerned citizens who have been willing to donate their time, knowledge and resources. The number of volunteer hours spent to further this cause is phenomenal, and creative, hardworking people have organized a multitude of fundraising efforts to pay for our experts over the years.
Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead
Please browse our website for articles on these important legal matters, information and updates on events, past and future, various news items from TV, radio and newspapers and an enormous photo album. We also urge you to visit our Fundraising and Donations section which lists the many ways that you can participate financially. We have the facts in our favor and the experts to prove our case. Funding legal and other expert expenses is our biggest challenge.