Our Fight to Stop a New Hampshire Landfill Is Headed to State Supreme Court

We’re pushing to stop an unneeded landfill expansion and make sure New Hampshire follows through on its goal to slash waste

CLF continues fight to protect scenic Ammonoosuc River from landfill expansion. Photo: EcoPhotography.

The Problem  

New Hampshire’s 50-acre Bethlehem Landfill buries 175,000 tons of trash each year. The landfill endangers the nearby Ammonoosuc River and other water resources. How? It generates massive volumes of toxic liquids (leachate from rainwater and snow that percolates through the waste pile), and hundreds of waste trucks haul trash through local communities. 

When the landfill operators, Casella/North Country Environmental Services, Inc., wanted to expand the landfill, residents objected. They’d had enough of Casella toting trash, half of it from out of state, to their small town. 

Since 2019, CLF has been fighting alongside residents to stop this unnecessary landfill expansion. We succeeded in getting New Hampshire’s Waste Management Council to determine that the Department of Environmental Services unlawfully issued the landfill expansion permit. But the waste company isn’t giving up yet. Now it’s appealed to New Hampshire’s highest court. But we’ll be there to ensure its appeal fails to stop this unnecessary expansion project for good.

What’s at Stake?

Landfills are dangerous. As solid and organic waste breaks down, it emits methane gas, which contributes to climate change. On top of this, landfills collect thousands of gallons of leachate – the contaminated liquid that drains from landfills. That liquid – loaded with toxic chemicals – ends up in wastewater treatment plants that aren’t equipped to treat those chemicals. In addition to consuming land resources, landfills – including the heavy truck traffic they rely on – jeopardize the health and well-being of local communities.  

But that’s not the end of the story. Landfills provide a false solution to our trash problem. We produce too much trash. So, on top of enabling and worsening this problem, permitting more landfills sabotages our efforts to work on better alternatives to landfilling.  

New Hampshire is already home to six large landfills – including two private mega-landfills: Casella’s landfill in Bethlehem, and Waste Management, Inc.’s landfill in Rochester (the largest in New England). We don’t need another toxic for-profit dump importing trash. As other New England states have limited and shut down their landfills, New Hampshire has gone in the opposite direction. Roughly half of the waste buried in New Hampshire landfills comes from out of state. For-profit landfills have allowed the state to become a dumping ground for the region’s trash.  

It’s all too clear: As New Hampshire embraces the role of New England’s trash dump, it threatens the health and environment of our communities.

CLF in Action

CLF is fighting to stop new and expanded landfills across New England. And we’re working to pass laws in every state to reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to landfills in the first place. 

In Bethlehem, we worked with residents to challenge the State when it granted Casella/NCES its permit to expand. And we succeeded in getting the Waste Management Council to declare the permit unlawful. We continue to defend that decision before the State’s Supreme Court and in lawsuits brought by Casella/NCES in Superior Court. And, in partnership with Community Action Works, we sued Casella for polluting the nearby Ammonoosuc River. 

We also continue to support efforts to better regulate landfills. In Dalton, we have joined residents in their fight to stop a proposed mega-landfill next to Forest Lake State Park. And, in 2022, we pushed the state to update the Solid Waste Management Plan. This year, we’ve also championed a food waste diversion bill, a critical first step to keep food waste out of our landfills and turn it into compost. 


In early 2022, we reached a settlement agreement with Casella/NCES in our Clean Water Act lawsuit. The company agreed to pay for critical restoration and protection projects on the Ammonoosuc River as part of that settlement.  

Meanwhile, the fight to stop the landfill’s expansion is stretching into its fourth year. Early on, the Waste Management Council agreed that New Hampshire didn’t need additional landfill space. That’s why they determined the state’s approval of the permit was unlawful. But Casella/NCES continues to grasp at straws. 

In addition to asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to take up its case, Casella launched simultaneous lawsuits in New Hampshire Superior Court. Meanwhile, until this case is resolved, the unlawfully permitted landfill continues to operate and threaten the health and environment of the community. 

Next Steps

CLF will stand up in the state’s highest court to defend the right of Bethlehem residents to live free from the dangers of unnecessary and ill-conceived landfill expansions. New Hampshire residents deserve better. That means holding our state regulators accountable to help our communities reduce waste and prioritize alternatives to landfills. We will fight against the rubber stamping of unwanted and unnecessary landfills that degrade our precious natural resources.  

And we will continue to push New Hampshire to clean up its act. That means pushing the state to invest in alternatives to landfills, from composting and recycling to bottle bills and waste bans.  

Landfilling may seem simple – out of sight, out of mind. But our environment is a limited resource, and we can’t bury our waste forever. The good news is that with a robust recycling and composting infrastructure, New Hampshire residents won’t have to. 

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.