Environmental groups have filed intervention papers in federal court to help the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District defend a rule requiring developers to mitigate the air pollution associated with new housing projects and other large developments.
On June 6, 2007, the National Association of Home Builders filed a challenge in federal district court seeking to invalidate the rule, claiming only the federal government can regulate these activities.
At issue is a rule entitled “Indirect Source Review,” which requires developers to mitigate pollution from the increased traffic generated by new development. Developers can either incorporate into their projects elements that will minimize these traffic-related emissions such as building near public transit, adding bicycle lanes, or building walkable shopping into the plans, or pay a mitigation fee to the district to be used to purchase off-site emission reductions.
Gordon Nipp, who has been fighting unmitigated development in the southern Valley for many years, said, “Rampant, poorly designed sprawl is a major cause of the terrible air pollution we suffer with here in the San Joaquin Valley. Every sector of the Valley’s economy must join the war against air pollution. It is sad to see the homebuilders trying to avoid doing their part.”
The intervention is unusual for environmental and public health groups that have filed and settled numerous lawsuits in recent years that have forced the air district to do a better job of protecting public health.
“We are glad to defend the air district in court when it does something right,” said Paul Cort, an attorney with Earthjustice who is representing the environmental groups.
Earthjustice is representing Environmental Defense and the Kern-Kaweah (Bakersfield), Tehipite (Fresno), and Motherlode (Sacramento) Chapters of the Sierra Club in the intervention.
Read the intervention papers (PDF)