Vested Rights Decision

Dear Clean Environment Supporters,

On Thursday, July 28 BACE (Bay Area for Clean Environment) suffered a legal setback when a state appeals court upheld an earlier decision ruling that vested rights to conduct surface mining operations existed on much of Lehigh’s roughly 3,500 acre quarry in the hills west of Cupertino and Los Altos.

BACE filed a lawsuit on behalf of Santa Clara County residents following a February 8, 2011 decision by the County Board of Supervisors declaring that mining operations on 13 of 19 parcels of land qualified as legal nonconforming use. This meant that Lehigh could expand its operations into those parcels without public review and consideration of public health and welfare that a use permit and mining permit would require. (16 page court decision)

Obviously it is a disappointing ruling, but BACE remains committed to protecting citizens health,  quality of life, and our local environment. The legal challenge that you all supported delayed any expansion at the quarry for more than five years and, more importantly, united neighboring cities in supporting our efforts for the first time. The Town of Los Altos Hills, City of Los Altos, Town of Portola Valley, and the City of Sunnyvale, joined the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Committee for Green Foothills, and Breathe California in an amicus brief supporting BACE’s appeal. Local communities and their elected officials are aware as never before of the presence and impact of this major industrial facility in our midst. But we have much more to do.

Our Work Continues.

Legal: BACE has a second lawsuit that will be heard by an appeals court next month. This case focuses on what BACE considers serious deficiencies in Lehigh’s current reclamation plan. (read our complaint)

Noise: BACE will be creating a petition on to support the City of Cupertino’s efforts to reduce the noise levels from Lehigh. If you hear a persistent humming, especially in the evening and at night please click here and sign our petition. You do not need to be a Cupertino resident to sign the petition. We need to send a clear message to Santa Clara County that regulates and enforces the noise ordinances.

Expansion: Finally, we need to prepare to fight any mining expansion by Lehigh. If you are deeply concerned about any expansion of surface mining in our local foothills please contact BACE. Write us a brief message about your concerns and how you might be willing to help with this particular issue. We will respond to every message.

Thank you for your continuing support.   

— The BACE  Team

Please forward this email to your friends, family, and neighbors.

Lehigh reaches settlement with EPA on latest violation

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Lehigh Southwest Cement Company for failing to properly report releases of toxic chemicals at its Cupertino, Calif. plant. The company is required to pay a $47,600 penalty and spend $144,250 to fund projects that support local emergency response and limit future releases from the plant.

News Headlines (prior to 2015)

See the news that we helped make fighting Lehigh to force them to protect our air

Cupertino council welcomes new members, says goodbye to others. Lehigh pollution a factor.
– December 03, 2014

A Victory! After much pressure from BACE and other citizen groups, the Lehigh Cement Plant has agreed to replace the central smokestack they illegally removed in the 1960’s. – January 13, 2014

Communities Across the Country Bombarded By Pollution Urge EPA to Follow Current Science – Earthjustice
News July 3, 2013

Exposure to high pollution levels during pregnancy may increase risk of having child with autism.  Is the cement plan causing our Autism epidemic?  Harvard School of Public Health – June 18, 2013

Harvard Study: “Women who were exposed to thehighest levels of diesel or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism” – Huffington Post June 18, 2013

Lehigh Cement, Sierra Club reach settlement on Permanente Creek suit – Mercury News – May 2, 2013

Lehigh cement settles Cupertino pollution suit for $10 million – April 25, 2013

Communities Ask Court for Protection from Toxic Air Pollution – April 17, 2013

Cupertino’s Lehigh cement plant and quarry criticized for mercury emissions – March 5, 2013

Are The New Weakened Cement Standards Enough? – January 14, 2013

Christmas Comes Early for Cement Industry – December 22, 2012

EPA imposes new pollution limits on boilers, cement plants – December 21, 2012

Boiler, Incinerator and Cement Cleanup will Cut Pollution and Save Lives – December 21, 2012

EPA Finalizes Clean Air Standards for Industrial Boilers, Incinerators and Cement Kilns/Updated rules provide extensive public health protections, cut costs of compliance – December 21, 2012

Lehigh Quarry’s Toxic Impact on Local Air and Watershed – December 21, 2012

Lawsuits emerge over Lehigh operations: Cement plant sues air quality management district; Regional – December 5, 2012

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company Faces Legal Challenge to Environmental Impact Report – November 29, 2012

Lehigh at the Center of Two Lawsuits – November 29, 2012

KQED News: Rules Tightened on Cupertino Cement Plant, a Big Source of Bay Area Mercury – September 19, 2012

Great presentation at City Hall today by Dr. Gary Latshaw, the Air Quality Chairman of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. The slides are available here (34 Megs, Powerpoint). – August 12, 2012

EPA Dirties Clean Air Legacy with Proposal to Weaken and Delay Cement Rule – June 25, 2012

Patchcast: County Board ignores residents, votes to let Lehigh expand gigantic waste pile(video) – July 9, 2012

Lehigh Prevails with Supes Decision on Reclamation Plan – June 22 2012

Lehigh Restoration Plan Approved; Opponents Stunned by Rock Pile Size – June 11 2012

New Study Finds Skyrocketing Increase in Autism: Group says link to environmental factors shown, gov’t should regulate toxic chemicals – April 1, 2012

After Stinging Commentary, County Postpones Cement Hearing – March 9, 2012

Baykeepers names Lehigh as largest source of toxic mercury pollution in S.F. Bay – March 1, 2012

Council to Air District: More Stringent Standards for Lehigh

The actual letter (PDF)
– Feb. 9 2012