Moreno Valley, CA
Environmental justice and conservation groups sued the Southern California city of Moreno Valley today over its approval of the World Logistics Center, a sprawling 40-million-square-foot warehouse project that would add 14,000 truck trips to town every day, worsen already poor air quality and harm birds and other wildlife in the nearby San Jacinto Wildlife Area.
The lawsuit follows the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Riverside County Transportation Commission and Riverside County’s decision to file lawsuits challenging the warehouse project because of the severe air pollution and traffic problems it will bring to the region.
“To bring this much additional traffic without any mitigation to an area with some of the worst air pollution is criminal,” said Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “Thousands of studies have demonstrated that air pollution harms people, especially children. Strokes, heart disease, asthma and other respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and even low birth weight and birth defects are linked to air pollution, yet this plan has no mitigation measures in place to address these preventable impacts.”
The warehouse project was approved by the city in August 2015. Today’s lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court challenges Moreno Valley’s failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when reviewing the proposed project and its substantial impacts on nearby communities and wildlife. Despite recognizing that the project’s significant contributions to worsening air quality, increased traffic congestion and climate change, the city required only meager steps to reduce those harms.
About the size of 700 football fields, the World Logistics Center is expected to generate 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and have more than 14,000 truck trips to the site every day. Those trucks would be transporting goods more than 80 miles from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to Moreno Valley, often on two-lane roads that are already congested.
“SR-60, its overpasses, Gilman Springs Road as well as roads within Moreno Valley will become even more clogged and dangerous by the World Logistic Center’s more than 14,000 daily toxic diesel truck trips and 50,000 cars,” said George Hague, conservation chair of Sierra Club’s Moreno Valley Group. “They are not even willing to agree in writing that they will pay their fair share of improvements to these roads as requested several times by Caltrans, Riverside County Transportation Commission and the residents of Moreno Valley.”
Photos courtesy of Nicole Beaulac
Red-tailed hawk (top) and tricolored blackbird in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area.
The World Logistics Center is also adjacent to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, which is home to many threatened and endangered wildlife and plants, including the Los Angeles pocket mouse, California golden eagle, numerous hawk, raptor and other bird species including the burrowing owl, tricolored blackbird and endangered San Jacinto crownscale. The project area itself is one of the best raptor habitats in the state.
“Birds have already been negatively affected by the glare from the existing warehouses in Moreno Valley. The WLC will increase that impact to another order of magnitude,” said Drew Feldmann, conservation chair of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.
“We don’t need yet another sprawling mega-project that makes our air dirtier, our climate hotter and our roads more congested,” said Aruna Prabhala, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s disappointing to see the city of Moreno Valley ignore the impacts this project will have on the climate, wildlife and local residents. They deserve better.”
“What is especially disturbing about this project is how its environmental and public health impacts cut across so many areas, and affect so many communities, from air pollution to regional traffic issues, to threatening the habitat of sensitive species,” said Yana Garcia, associate attorney for Earthjustice. “We find ourselves with no other choice but to go to court and seek a more thorough environmental review.”
Today’s lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and Coalition for Clean Air.
Read the court document.