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City of Dallas and waste association settle lawsuit

Several waste haulers and the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) have declared that they will settle a longstanding waste flow control lawsuit against the City of Dallas that dates to 2011.

The settlement, which was approved by Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, means 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 Judge O’Connor barring enforcement of the ordinance. That ruling stated that the city’s actions violated the Contract Clause of the U.S. 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.”

“We are so happy we’re able to put this episode behind us,” said Tom Brown, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Progressive Waste Solutions in Fort Worth and chair of NSWMA’s Texas Chapter. “This 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.

“We are glad it’s over, but disappointed that Dallas taxpayers had to foot the bill for defending this terrible ordinance,” said Sharon H. Kneiss, president and chief executive officer of the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), the parent association of NSWMA. “Cities, counties and states should be on notice that we will not stand idly by and let local governments establish waste disposal monopolies. It’s not just bad for our industry, it’s bad for the consumer and the taxpayer, as well. Let the market determine the most economical and environmentally sound waste management solutions. The answer is not a government monopoly.”

The parties to the settlement include NSWMA; Bluebonnet Waste Control, Inc.; IESI Corp.; Republic Services, Inc.; Waste Management, Inc.; Businesses Against Flow Control; and the City of Dallas.