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Regional Air Victory has National Implications

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
24 September 2008, 1:51 PM

We found it curious when the DC-based National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) sued a local air pollution board in California. Why would a big national trade association care about a local air pollution rule?

Well it turns out, NAHB had hoped to stop "Indirect Source Review" rules from spreading to other jurisdictions across the nation.

Earthjustice filed a defendant-intervenor brief defending the rule and you’ll be glad to know, the developers' lobby lawsuit was recently tossed out of court.

A little background:

The Indirect Source Review Rule, adopted by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, went into effect in March 2006.

It requires developers to minimize new traffic-related emissions by choosing from a list of options such as building near public transit, including bicycle lanes and walkable shopping, or paying a mitigation fee to the district to reduce emissions elsewhere in the region.

The good news is that many developers in the San Joaquin Valley are already incorporating  emissions reduction strategies into their plans and they have been studying transit-oriented development.

Sadly, the National Association of Homebuilders was more interested in fighting smart growth than building it. With their defeat in federal court, we expect many air agencies around the country to emulate the San Joaquin Valley Air District's rules.

"No special interest should have a free ride in a region where schools have to warn parents to keep children indoors on bad air days," said Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort, who represented the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund in the case.

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