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Guide to the James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection
MS-0125  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection
    Dates: 1973-1998
    Bulk Dates: 1980-1998
    Identification: MS-0125
    Creator: Harmon, Edith, 1945- Harmon, James, 1919-2007
    Physical Description: 17.72 linear ft
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Special Collections & University Archives
    5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
    San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
    URL: http://library.sdsu.edu/scua
    Email: scref@rohan.sdsu.edu
    Phone: 619-594-6791

    Biographical Information:

    James and Edith Harmon were married for 28 years. James Harmon was born May 24, 1919 in Middletown, Ohio. As a young man he enrolled in the Navy and fought in World War II. He later went on to fight in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. James achieved the difficult task of becoming an officer after entering service as an enlisted man. After serving 20 years, he retired from the military, and pursued his PhD in Political Science. He went on to become a professor at San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus from 1964-1981. James requested assignment to the remote campus because of his love for the desert habitat. While at SDSU he became the Chair of the Political Science Department. Also at SDSU, James met Edith, or Edie as she is more commonly known. She was born in 1945 and was 26 years his junior. The couple spent almost every day of their marriage together, until his death on April 26, 2007. Edie Harmon grew up in Massachusetts. She graduated from Macalester College in 1966 as a geography major. She fell in love with the desert when she went to Africa with the Peace Corps. She would go on to spend time in Africa as a teacher in biology and art. While there she also studied desert lands and animals. When she met James, Edie decided to move to Imperial County. While in Imperial County Edie went on to become a longtime volunteer for the Sierra Club and the Desert Protective Council. She continues to be the liaison between the Bureau of Land Management and the Sierra Club.
    The Harmons began their environmental battles in the 1970s. Their initial motive was local commercial companies which were siphoning excess groundwater from Imperial County residents. At the time, Imperial County did not have any attorneys who focused on environmental law; as a result the Harmons educated themselves on the relevant legal issues. By the time they joined the Sierra Club in 1990, they had already participated in multiple environmental lawsuits. The Harmons became proficient at analyzing Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), gathering evidence against proposed projects, and initiating litigation.
    The Harmons spent much of their time trying to prevent the construction of landfills in the Southern California deserts, including the Mesquite Regional Landfill proposed in 1992, the Eagle Mountain Landfill also proposed in 1992, the Bolo Station Landfill in 1994, the Republic Imperial Landfill of 1994, and the Campo Solid Waste Management site in 1995. They prevented the construction of all of these landfills except for the Mesquite Regional Landfill, which was approved and built by Arid Operations, and the Campo Solid Waste Management project, which is still pending.
    The Harmons also opposed mining operations including the White Pit mining project in 1995, Jimenez Pit project in 1996, the Castle Mountain Mine in 1997, and the Soledad Mountain Mining project, also in 1997. The Harmons prevented construction of the White Pit Mine, while the Jimenez Pit project and Castle Mountain Mine expansion project were both approved and built. The Soledad Mountain Mining project is still pending.
    James and Edie Harmon opposed projects which dealt with sewage waste, sludge waste, and agricultural damaging projects, including one in the Ocotillo-Coyote Wells Basin in 1989, and two in Imperial County in 1996 and 1998. They also worked successfully to uphold a decision preventing construction of the North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Plant in 1987.

    Access Terms

    This collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Topical Term:

    Environmental impact analysis -- California, Southern
    Environmental law -- California
    Environmental protection -- California -- San Diego -- Sources
    Environmentalism
    Environmentalism -- California, Southern
    Sewage -- Environmental aspects -- California -- San Diego -- History -- 20th century -- Sources

    Administrative Information

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    This collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation:

    Identification of item, folder title, box number, James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

    Related Materials:

    Sierra Club, San Diego Chapter Records, 1957-2000 (MS-0027)
    Rose (Pandora) Environmental Activism Collection, 1972-2004 (MS-0410)

    Arrangement of Materials:

    I. Mesquite Landfill Project Files (1984-1996)
    II. Sewage and Sludge Waste Files (1985-1997)
    III. Eagle Mountain Landfill Files (1991-1997)
    IV. North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Center Files (1981-1987)
    V. Campo Solid Waste Management Project Files (1992-1994)
    VI. Republic Imperial Landfill Expansion Files (1994-1996)
    VII. El Remate Incorporated Agricultural Project Files (1973-1990)
    VIII. Soledad Mountain Mining Project Files (1997)
    IX. Castle Mountain Mine Expansion Project Files (1987-1998)
    X. White Pit Mining Project Files (1995-1998)
    XI. Bolo Station Landfill Files (1994)
    XII. Jimenez Pit Granite Construction Files (1996)

    Scope and Contents

    The James and Edie Harmon Environmental Collection documents James and Edie Harmon's grassroots environmental work in opposition to numerous landfills, mines, and waste projects in the late 1980s and 1990s.  The collection dates from 1973 to 1998, and includes environmental impact reports, correspondences, newspaper clippings, litigation documents, government documents, health reports, environmental reports, and letters from the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations.  The collection contains an abundance of environmental impact reports, but a noticeable lack of personal analysis by the Harmons.  The collection consist of 12 major series: Mesquite Landfill Project Files (1984-1996), Sewage and Sludge Waste Files (1985-1997), Eagle Mountain Landfill Files (1991-1997), North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Center Files (1981-1987), Campo Solid Waste Management Project Files (1992-1994), Republic Imperial Landfill Expansion Files (1994-1996), El Remate Incorporated Agricultural Project Files (1973-1990), Soledad Mountain Mining Project Files (1997), Castle Mountain Mine Expansion Project Files (1987-1998), White Pit Mining Project Files (1995-1998), Bolo Station Landfill Files (1994), and Jimenez Pit Granite Construction Files (1996).
    The Mesquite Landfill Project Files document both the Harmons' work against construction of the Mesquite Regional Landfill and Arid Operations' work in favor of construction.  It clearly illustrates the complex process a proposed project must face before it is approved.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from 1984-1996.  It contains biological assessments, reports, environmental impact reports, newspaper articles, and correspondence.  A highlight is a biological assessment of the Mesquite Mine dated July of 1984, a document filed as part of the original landfill proposal.  The series contains documentation from several groups, including Desert Citizens Against Pollution, Arid Operations, the Sierra Club, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, and the Imperial County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
    The Sewage and Sludge Waste Files documents the Harmons' research into the safety of biosolids.  The series includes numerous EPA rules, standards, and restrictions on waste from the early 1990s.  It documents perspectives both in favor and against sewage and sludge waste treatment practices. The files are arranged alphabetically and range from 1985-1997.  A highlight is a report on sewage and sludge waste produced by Cornell University in 1997.  The series includes documents created by numerous groups  including Pennsylvania State University, Food Products Association or FPA (formerly the National Food Processor Associate or NFPA), Laredo Safety Institute, National Research Council, Citizen's Clearing House for Hazardous Waste, the non-government organization California Farm Bureau Federation, National Sludge Alliance, G. Fred Lee & Associates, San Diego District Attorney's office, Imperial County's Board of Supervisors and Planning Department, the Mexican Government, and the Sierra Club.
    The Eagle Mountain Landfill Files document the arguments of those in favor and against construction of the Eagle Mountain Landfill, as well as the Harmons' work to prevent the landfill's construction. The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges in date from 1991-1997.  Included are the lawsuit papers from the National Parks and Conservation Association versus the County of Riverside and Kaiser Steel Resources, Incorporated.  Other involved groups are Citizen's Clearing House for Hazardous Waste, National Citizens Alliance, and the Sierra Club.  A large percentage of the Eagle Mountain Landfill files are made up of drafts, appendixes, and final environmental impact reports.  Also included in the series are various articles and newspaper clippings addressing the health dangers of landfills, cement kilns, and incinerators.
    The North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Center Files document the Harmons' research into the potential dangers of trash-to-energy plants.  The files are arranged alphabetically and range in date from 1981-1987.  The center was intended to be built in San Marcos, California.  Documents in the files include the initial permit application that was submitted in 1987 to the Department of Health, articles on waste, analysis of ash, ozone and smog reports.  A highlight is a report in which the State of New York reevaluates two incinerators.  Among the groups involved are the Sierra Club, UCLA, the City of Los Angeles, and the City of San Diego.
    The Campo Solid Waste Management Project Files document the work of the Campo Band of Mission Indians to improve their economic conditions, and the Harmons' work against the project.  It is arranged alphabetically and ranges in date from 1992-1994.  The series contains appendices, and the comments and responses portion of the environmental impact reports. Two notable documents in the files are the State of Alaska's documented opposition to the proposed project, and the County of San Diego taking legal action against the Campo Band of Mission Indians, who responded with documents stating the project, which was to be built on reservation land in San Diego County, would improve their economic position, and provide a sense of independence from the federal government.
    The Republic Imperial Landfill Files document the full process a proposed project faces before it can be approved.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from 1994-1996. A highlight of the files is the evaluation of the potential impact of landfill covers by Triegel & Associates, Incorporated. Other documents include draft environmental impact reports, conditional use permit agreements, and an analysis of the final environmental impact report.  The files contain documents created by numerous groups, including California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Department of Fish and Game, California Integrated Waste Management Board, and Triegel & Associates, Incorporated.
    The El Remate, Incorporated Agricultural Project Files document the importance of water as a resource in Imperial County, and demonstrates the influence a united community, in this case led by the Ocotillo Community Council, can have in accomplishing a goal.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from 1973-1990.  Highlights include Imperial County's general plan from the 1970s in which the county's open space land management is detailed. Documents and files created by numerous groups are included in the series, including the Imperial County's Board of Supervisors, Imperial County's Planning Commission, and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. Included in the files are public hearing minutes, draft and final environmental impact reports, and litigation documents
    The Soledad Mountain Project Files document the complex process a proposed project must face before it is approved.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from May – November, 1997.  It is made up of Draft Environmental Impact Reports, Environmental Impact Reports, and a decision by the Bureau of Land Management.
    The Castle Mountain Mine Expansion Files document the process existing mining facilities must encounter if they intend to expand.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from 1987-1998.  The mine as proposed was to be constructed in San Bernardino County, California.  A highlight of the series is the lone 1987 information packet for a conference titled A Community Perspective of Hazardous Waste Planning.  The series consists of the draft environmental impact reports, the final environmental impact reports, and a Record of Decision by the Bureau of Land Management.
    The White Pit Mining Project Files document the communication process between a project proposing company and their County's Planning Commission.  The series is arranged alphabetically and ranges from 1995-1998.  The series consists of draft and final environmental impact reports.  Documents created by numerous groups and organizations are included in the series, including Imperial County's Planning Commission, Imperial County's Board of Supervisor, and the Sierra Club.
    The Bolo Station Landfill Project Files highlights the challenges faced by a proposal to ship waste through an existing rail line.  It also clearly demonstrates cooperation between corporate entities in pursuing landfill construction.  The series is arranged alphabetically and dates from 1994.  It includes a final environmental impact report and the Mitigation Monitoring and Compliance Program.  The Final Environmental Impact Report contains public and agency comments on the DEIR and the Supplement to the DEIR.
    The Jimenez Pit Files document the environmental assessment undertaken at the Jimenez Pit site, submitted as part of the project approval process, and completed in April 1996.  It shows the Granite Construction Company's efforts to establish multiple mining operations in Southern California.  The series is arranged alphabetically.