Date: September 23, 2009

To: County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors: Paul Kelley, Chair, Valerie Brown, Efren Carrillo, Mike Kerns, Shirlee Zane, Mayors, City Council members, CAO, City Managers

CC: Phil Demery, Susan Klassen

From: Climate Protection Campaign, Sierra Club – Redwood Chapter, Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative, LITE Initiatives, Accountable Development Coalition

Recommendation to reject proposed Purchase and Sale Agreement with Republic Services

Link to letter including accompanying materials:

We recommend that the Board and cities reject the proposed Purchase and Sale Agreement with Republic Services for the Central Landfill because the deal undermines this community’s long term environmental and economic goals.

Selling the solid waste system would permanently transfer an irreplaceable asset from public to corporate ownership. The proposed contract could increase costs to residents and thwart this community’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. It would also remove options for the future and diminish this Board’s reputation and legacy.

Many of our reasons to oppose divestiture are aimed at the proposed Agreement’s financial weaknesses because long term economic goals align with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Serious flaws in the proposed Agreement include the following:

1. Greenhouse gas from organics, the main source of emissions from solid waste, is inadequately addressed making it very unlikely that Sonoma County will meet its greenhouse gas reduction target in the solid waste sector.

2. The County and cities would continue to have exposure to liability for off-site environmental effects of the Central Landfill for ten years.

3. A ‘put or pay’ clause in the Agreement creates a perverse incentive and removes possible savings from zero-waste policies and increased recycling.

4. More than $100 million will be drained from Sonoma County’s economy in the form of profit for Republic Systems, an Arizona-based corporation.

5. Disposal rates for residents and businesses are guaranteed to climb and after 20 years Republic could close the landfill and abandon disposal services in Sonoma County.

We recognize that the County has endeavored for years to find a viable solution for Sonoma County’s solid waste. In 2006 a study by Brown Vence & Associates recommended that a Joint Powers Authority be charged with solid waste management and maximizing diversion through zero-waste policies. When the County and cities were not able to reach an agreement on a JPA, the Board instructed staff to pursue landfill divestiture. Staff did its best to fulfill the Board’s direction and after several years unveiled the proposed Agreement with Republic.

However, we believe the political landscape has changed greatly since 2006. New opportunities for better options now exist.

In addition to the long-term Joint Powers Authority option mentioned above, there are other ways to obtain near-term disposal contracts and meet regulatory deadlines:

1. Cost-effective outhaul agreement – The proposed Operations and Disposal Agreements with Republic could rapidly be turned into an RFP to ensure the County is getting the best value for this service.

2. Regulatory deadlines – Show to the regulatory agencies that there is a good faith effort to resolve the closure liability issue by initiating a closure surcharge on the tipping fee and a commitment to work in concert with RWQCB staff and the cities to develop a solution that protects the environment (and the public value of the system).

The accompanying material substantiates our recommendation to the Board to reject the proposed Agreement with Republic and to seek better solutions.

Thank you for your consideration. We pledge to help you chart a better course to the future.

Link to letter including accompanying materials: