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Supreme Court Lets Air Rule Stand in San Joaquin Valley

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld a unique air pollution rule that requires developers in California’s polluted San Joaquin Valley to mitigate for the added air pollution their new development brings.The rule was created by the San Joaquin Valley air district in a desperate move to do something about the out-of-control air pollution in the region.

The rule requires developers to mitigate for the pollution created by both the construction equipment used to build the project as well as the new automobile traffic generated by the development. The National Association of Homebuilders fought the rule hard, seeing that if the rule stood here, other heavily polluted jurisdictions around California and across the nation might adopt similar measures. Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort, representing the Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club, intervened in the Homebuilders’ legal challenge to defend the rule.

A federal district court upheld the authority of the state clean air agency to enact and enforce the rule, as did the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Homebuilders took the case to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case, thus leaving the clean air rule in place.