History

1893 – The Campo Indian Reservation Established

After many years of Native American struggles for land rights, the “federal government finally established a reservation for the Campo band.”[1] However, “by that time, there were only about one hundred Kumeyaay (Campo) surviving of the population of five thousand who had once lived in the surrounding region.”[2] The Campos were officially moved to the small reservation by 1905.[3]

1970 – National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA)

NEPA was established in order to “guarantee the public an opportunity to participate,” and require “an environmental impact study that would serve as the basis for the secretary’s decision.”[4]

1986 – “184 municipal landfills had made the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of the most contaminated sites in the nation”[5]

1987 – “Role of race in the siting of commercial waste facilities was studied on a national scale”[6]

This was especially influenced by the Toxic Wastes and Race study from the United Church of Christ, which “reported that the proportion of racial minorities in communities with the largest commercial landfills or the greatest number of commercial waste facilities was three times greater than in communities without such facilities.”[7] This research impacted the future discourse regarding landfill siting and race, a prominent fight of the environmental justice movement.

1987- Campo’s first consideration of developing a commercial landfill for San Diego County

1988 – EPA Groundwater Regulations           

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed that “the system of monitoring wells surrounding a landfill must be adequate to detect whether the groundwater passing underneath the landfill is becoming contaminated.”[8] These regulation requirements were used by those resisting the development of the landfill to prove that the land on the Campo land was unsuitable for a landfill by law.[9]

1989 – Campo Tribe announced its intention to study the possibility of developing landfill on the reservation for garbage from the cities of San Diego County.

October 12, 1989 – First public meeting to discuss the landfill project hosted by the Campos

This meeting was considered a scoping meeting and was hosted at the Campos’ tribal hall. [10] Scoping meetings are a “required initial step in the preparation of a federal environmental impact statement (EIS),” in which “any federal agency proposing  a major project that may significantly affect the environment must disclose to the public its possible environmental impact.”[11] Many neighbors, majority white neighbors, came to this meeting to resist the landfill development.[12]

October 26, 1989 – Major Resistance Effort

Many people who opposed the Campo landfill project organized at the “boulevard fire station’s two-engine garage to protest the landfill project.”[13] This event took two hours, in which the risk for groundwater contamination was discussed and emphasized in major chants such as, “no water, no future”.[14]

1990 – Campo EPA Created

The Campo EPA was similar to the Navajo EPA, established in 1972, “covering a broad range of environmental concerns – for example, air quality, water quality, pesticides, solid waste and hazardous waste permitting programs, and hazardous waste cleanups.”[15] However, the “Campo EPA did not then have much of track record and its primary mission was to regulate the proposed landfill.”[16]

December 10, 1992 – “Secretary James M. Strock, the head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, signed a finding that proposed cooperative agreement met the requirements of AB 240.”[17]

AB 240 was a state-tribal cooperative agreement that basically allowed it acceptable that the states and tribe could “agree to disagree” as long as they cooperate together.[18] Strock found the “Camp EPA’s regulatory system” to be “very closely patterned on California’s with no material differences between the two.”[19] Strock also “concluded by expressing the hope that the agreement would serve as a model of environmental partnership between states and tribes, largely eliminating jurisdictional disputes as a source of the conflicts that have marred state-tribal relations in the past.”[20]

April 27, 1993 – “Secretary Bruce Babbitt approved the lease of the landfill site to Mid-American”[21]

Secretary Babbitt’s decision was largely influenced by the “universal support among tribal members” for the project.[22] However, his decision “was denounced by a chorus of federal, state, and local elected officials representing the Campo area.”[23]

 


 

[1] McGovern, Dan, The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Fight for Gold in California’s Garbage, (Norman, Oklahoma: Oklahoma University Press, 1995): 78.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 79.

[4] McGovern, Dan, “The Battle Over The Environmental Impact Statement In The Camp Indian Landfill War,” West-Northwest, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Sept. 1995): 149.

[5] McGovern, Dan, “The Battle Over The Environmental Impact Statement In The Camp Indian Landfill War,” West-Northwest, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Sept. 1995): 154.

[6] Ibid, 146.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 156.

[9] Ibid.

[10] McGovern, Dan, The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Fight for Gold in California’s Garbage, (Norman, Oklahoma: Oklahoma University Press, 1995): 7.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 9.

[13] Ibid, 11.

[14] Ibid, 12.

[15] McGovern, Dan, “The Battle Over The Environmental Impact Statement In The Camp Indian Landfill War,” West-Northwest, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Sept. 1995): 158.

[16] Ibid, 159.

[17] McGovern, Dan, The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Fight for Gold in California’s Garbage, (Norman, Oklahoma: Oklahoma University Press, 1995): 161.

[18] Ibid, 159.

[19] Ibid, 161.

[20] Ibid, 162.

[21] Ibid, 196.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid, 197.