Groups Criticize San Joaquin Valley Air District's Empty Gestures

Review of greenhouse gas emissions from mega-dairies called a sham


Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 310-1549
Paul Cort or Sarah Jackson, Earthjustice, (415) 939-3439
Kevin Hall, Sierra Club – Tehipite Chapter, (559) 244-1842


Clean air activists from the Central Valley criticized the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s touted early efforts to combat sources of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

While the district today presented its new Climate Change Action Plan, the public testified before the District Governing Board and presented a letter from lawyers at the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice stating that district staff were not taking global warming seriously.

In particular, the groups pointed to the district’s environmental review of large dairy projects proposed in Fresno County and the decision in those reviews to consider all but the largest sources of greenhouse gases to be “insignificant.” 

“These mega-dairies are coming to our Valley by the dozens, polluting our air, water, and soil, and now our public health agency is telling them not to worry about their greenhouse gases either,” said Rev. Steve Ratzlaff, pastor of Mennonite Community Church and a member of the Fresno Healthy Dairy Commission. “The district’s so-called review of greenhouse gas emissions is a complete sham engineered to make the district look like it is doing something while ensuring that industries like these won’t have to mitigate their pollution.”      

These groups were also critical of the district’s announcement of its new Climate Change Action Plan, which includes plans to streamline monitoring and to allow sources to “bank” credits for voluntary greenhouse gas emission reduction projects.

“This is lip service,” complained Sierra Club-Tehipite Chapter Air Quality Chair Kevin Hall of Fresno, adding, “These efforts to emphasize flexibility over actual emission reductions sadly follow an all-too-common pattern for this District and will do nothing to address the serious problem of global warming.”

“As state and local efforts to combat climate change ramp up in California, the district’s efforts seem to be going backward by focusing on shielding polluters from real greenhouse gas reductions,” says Matthew Vespa, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The district needs to conduct meaningful reviews of greenhouse gas emissions or it will be virtually impossible for the Valley to meet the emission reduction targets set forth by the state and the governor.”

Read the full text of the letter presented to the air district board at their meeting today. (PDF)

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