Ninth Circuit panel halts Eagle Mountain landfill

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A controversial land swap that would locate the world's largest landfill near Joshua Tree National Monument has again been stopped after a new appeals court ruling.

For the last 20 years, the Kaiser Corporation’s tried to develop a landfill on property at Eagle Mountain. Not just any landfill – Eagle Mountain would take in 20,000 tons of garbage a day, 6 days a week, 16 hours a day at its peak.

Kaiser sought to swap land with the federal Bureau of Land Management to amass enough property for its dumping needs. The mining company obtained permits and cleared state court challenges.

But the National Parks Conservation Association and a desert-area couple challenged the swap deal in federal court, and a judge blocked it. Now an appeals court has upheld that ruling.

Judges determined that the federal land agency focused too much on the company's goals for the land, and not enough on the public interest. The court also found fault with the agency's scrutiny of environmental effects.

Kaiser Ventures and the BLM could still appeal the decision. Conservation groups and desert dwellers call the ruling a major victory in a 20-year dispute over the fate of the Eagle Mountain project.