A settlement has been reached in the case that pitted the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) and a number of haulers against the city of Dallas, which attempted to implement a flow control ordinance in early 2012.
In a January 2012 ruling, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor halted implementation of the ordinance, which would have required haulers to dispose of waste at the city’s McCommas Bluff Landfill. O’Connor rejected the city’s contention that its flow control ordinance was foremost a way to create a “greener, cleaner city.”
According to the Dallas News, O’Connor said, “Based on the evidence currently before the court, the Flow Control Ordinance was enacted to raise revenue.”
Judge O’Connor ruled that the city could not enact its ordinance, which directed solid waste and recyclables generated within the city to a city-owned landfill and transfer station, “until further notice from the court.”
The further notice came in the form of the settlement, which was approved by O’Connor in May. As a result, the haulers can dispose of the waste they collect in Dallas at locations of their choosing, including their own facilities located outside of the city, the NSWMA says. (See "Newsworthy" for the full story.)
The settlement follows O’Connor’s issue of an injunction barring the enforcement of the ordinance in October 2012. According to that ruling, Dallas’ actions violated the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Texas state law and the Dallas city charter. The court determined 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.”
While the settlement in the NSWMA et al v. The City of Dallas et al likely is not the last word on flow control, the haulers who were party to the lawsuit—Bluebonnet Waste Control Inc., IESI Corp., Republic Services Inc. and Waste Management Inc.—don’t have to worry about the introduction of similar legislation for some time. Under the terms of the settlement, no flow control law would be applicable to these haulers until 2029. At which point these haulers and others may find themselves gearing up for another fight if the city decides to try to enact a similar measure.