A garbage company does not have legal standing to file a lawsuit regarding the environmental review of a competing company's landfill plans, the Third District Court of Appeal has ruled. The three-judge panel unanimously voted to dismiss a suit filed by Waste Management of Alameda County. Waste Management argued that Alameda County should have required environmental impact report before allowing Browning-Ferris Industries to accept "designated wastes" because the county required Waste Management to prepare an EIR for a similar project. But the appellate court concluded Waste Management was only pursuing its economic interests, which was not adequate to maintain a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act. The dispute arose from BFI's proposal to accept "designated wastes" within the meaning of State Water Resources Control Board regulations (essentially, all nonhazardous solid wastes) at BFI's Vasco Road Sanitary Landfill in the hills east of Livermore. The county determined the project was exempt from CEQA review because it involved only a minor alteration to an existing use. Both the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board and the state Integrated Waste Management Board gave permission for BFI to accept designated waste. However, when Waste Management had earlier sought permission to accept designated wastes at its Altamont landfill four miles east of BFI's facility, the county had required an EIR. Waste Management filed a lawsuit. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Cecily Bond ordered an environmental review of BFI's plans and ordered BFI to stop accepting designated wastes. The appellate court overturned Bond's ruling A party can bring a lawsuit if it has a beneficial — i.e. direct — interest in a matter. Waste Management did not such an interest, court said. "An interest, including a financial or commercial interest, which is not within the zone of interests to be protected or regulated by the asserted legal duty can only be an indirect interest from the standpoint of the law. It has been clear throughout this litigation that Waste Management's interest is commercial and competitive," Presiding Judge Arthur Scotland wrote. "CEQA is not a fair competition statutory scheme." Simple logistics also were not adequate to establish Waste Management's beneficial interest, the court ruled. There was insufficient evidence to argue that BFI's acceptance of designated waste would have environmental consequences for Waste Management's landfill, which is on the other side of the mountain range, the court said. Waste Management also argued that it could bring a "citizen's action" that was intended to enforce a public duty. But the court said that a corporation is not a "citizen" and that Waste Management "has shown no demonstrable interest or commitment to the environmental concerns which are the essence of CEQA …" Because it ruled that Waste Management lacked standing to bring the lawsuit, the court did not rule on the merits of the case. The county had argued that the two landfill projects were dissimilar because Waste Management's plans involved expanded acreage and other operating changes. The Case: Waste Management of Alameda County v. County of Alameda, No. C024917, 00 C.D.O.S. 2972, filed April 17, 2000. The Lawyers: For Waste Management: Michael Zischke, Landels, Ripley & Diamond, (415) 512-8700. For Alameda County: Lorenzo Chambliss, Senior Deputy County Counsel, (510) 272-6703 For Integrated Waste Management Board: Matthew Campbell, deputy attorney general, (916) 327-2477. For Browning-Ferris: Scott Gordon, Bruen & Gordon, (925) 295-3131