Gov. Brown Vetoes Bill to Protect Gregory Canyon from Devastating Landfill

October 10, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:            CONTACT:     Doug Elmets
October 10, 2011                                                   (916) 329-9180

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation yesterday that would have protected drinking water and sacred sites in San Diego County by stopping plans to build a dump in Gregory Canyon. 

Although SB 833, by Sen. Juan Vargas, enjoyed broad bipartisan support – clearing the floor of the Senate 32-3 and the Assembly 70-1, Gov. Brown decided to go against the legislature and allow the Gregory Canyon Landfill project to move forward. 

“It is unfortunate that Governor Brown has decided to go against the voice of California’s legislature in support of the Gregory Canyon Landfill,” said Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, “Not only will this landfill threaten major detrimental impacts to both surface and groundwater, it will desecrate sacred Native American cultural sites.” 

Gregory Canyon is located on the banks of the San Luis Rey River, home to multiple endangered species, on top of an aquifer that supplies water to thousands of homes and on a known earthquake fault. 

“We are deeply disappointed in Governor Brown's decision,” said Damon Nagami, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.  "This is the wrong place to build a dump. It was unnecessary thirty years ago when first proposed and it’s still unnecessary."

The landfill would be located at the base of two important cultural sites of the Luiseno people. According to Luiseno tradition, Gregory Mountain is the resting place of Taakwic, a powerful spirit that appears as a fireball to collect the souls of the dead. Both Gregory Mountain and Medicine Rock, a 60-foot high boulder located just outside the boundary of the proposed landfill, have remained the site of religious ceremonies and traditions for centuries. 

The veto is just the latest chapter in the fight to save Gregory Canyon; there has been a long and continuous struggle to protect this valuable resource from becoming the site of a garbage dump. 

County officials repeatedly rejected Gregory Canyon as a potential site in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1994, Gregory Canyon Ltd., the landfill proponents, abandoned the County’s site selection and used a misleading countywide ballot initiative to authorize a landfill on the site if all permits were obtained for the project. 

After 17 years, the proposed Gregory Canyon Landfill has only obtained one of its permits.

It is certain that Gov. Brown’s decision will not put an end to this issue. The Save Gregory Canyon Coalition will continue to work toward stopping the Gregory Canyon Landfill.

“The fight does not stop here,” Smith said. “There is a reason that SB 833 received near unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate and why it was endorsed by over two dozen tribes along with environmental, religious and planning organizations. This is just the beginning; the Save Gregory Canyon Coalition plans to use every resource and option at our disposal to prevent this horrible dump from becoming a reality.”

 

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Pala Band of Mission Indians

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