Air Quality Advocates Move to Protect Air District's Rule to Reduce Pollution Caused by New Development Projects

October 31, 2006
Contact: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Kathryn Phillips, (916) 798-3239, kphillips@environmentaldefense.org

(Fresno, CA - October 31, 2006) - Three organizations representing residents of the San Joaquin Valley will take legal action today to support regulators' efforts to protect public health in one of the most polluted air basins in the country by reducing air pollution caused by new development projects.

Environmental Defense, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA) and the Sierra Club will jointly file a motion today to intervene in the Fresno County Superior Court case of California Building Industry Association, et al. vs. the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The motion supports the air district's authority to implement the landmark "indirect source rule" it adopted last December. It requires that developers of larger new residential, commercial and industrial projects reduce indirect pollution caused by construction activities and traffic linked to the development through a range of actions that reduce traffic or improve energy efficiency. If it is not feasible to reduce pollution at the development site, the developers have the option of paying a fee that the air district uses to buy and apply emissions reduction technologies elsewhere in the district.

"The indirect source rule is an indispensable piece in the puzzle to clean up the air in one of the most polluted air basins in the country," said Kathryn Phillips, manager of Environmental Defense's clean air campaign in the San Joaquin Valley. "Clean air depends on everyone playing a part in the clean up. Unfortunately, the California Building Industry Association is resisting being part of the solution."

"I see children and adults everyday who are suffering from lung disease aggravated by the region's air pollution," said Kevin Hamilton, a Fresno-based respiratory therapist and co-founder of MAHA. "We can't continue to stand by and do nothing. The California Building Industry Association's lawsuit essentially suggests that developers shouldn't look for ways to stop air pollution, and I just don't buy that."

Sierra Club members in the San Joaquin Valley have actively challenged developers' efforts to build without mitigating environmental impacts, especially in Kern County.

"We supported the indirect source rule because it provides a way for developers to systematically address the air pollution they cause through the choices they make about where to site projects and how to design projects. A number of developers down here agree," said Gordon Nipp, a Sierra Club member in Kern County. "It's disappointing that the industry's statewide trade association is so out of sync with its local member companies."

The air quality advocates are represented by the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a nationwide firm with offices in Palo Alto.

For details on the motion, go to: http://environmentaldefense.org/content.cfm?contentID=5573