Sierra Club Settlement Moves Forward, Results in Major National Study
April 24, 2008
On April 24, 2008, a local Las Vegas news station reported on air quality testing ongoing at three schools next to US 95 that will help us understand how highway pollution affects the area we breathe. This study is designed to measure highway air pollution levels in schools next to the highway and determine whether specially designed air filtration systems can reduce pollution levels in the classrooms. Preliminary results show that toxic air pollution levels in the classrooms are heightened during periods of high traffic, and that air filtrations systems, if properly designed and maintained, can significantly reduce indoor air pollution. The study was commissioned as a direct result of the Sierra Club's 2005 settlement with the Federal Highway Administration and the Nevada Department of Transportation. The results of this and other studies required by the settlement will create a new understanding of highway pollution and how to best protect communities from harmful airborne toxins.
June 23, 2007
A major national study to characterize and better understand the harmful effects of highway pollution is moving towards completion, marking further implementation of the Sierra Club’s landmark settlement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). In their June 2007 progress report to the Sierra Club, the FHWA announced that they have partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and secured millions of dollars in additional funding in order to monitor and study vehicle emissions at highway locations across the country. These studies will generate an invaluable understanding of the behavior of airborne toxins, which can then be used to determine what techniques work to protect communities and mitigate the harmful effects of highway pollutants. At the same time, NDOT is moving forward with its comprehensive study of children's exposure to highway air toxics in three schools next to U.S. 95 in Las Vegas. The NDOT study, which will evaluate pollution exposure levels and the effectiveness of state-of-the-art air filtration systems in reducing that exposure, will provide school districts throughout the country with critical information on how best to protect children from highway air pollution. With this unprecedented agreement, the Sierra Club has leveraged millions of dollars of state and federal money to provide research and information that will serve to protect communities across the county from the dangers of airborne toxins.
June 3, 2005
In June 2005, the Sierra Club reached a landmark settlement with the Federal Highway Administration and the Nevada Department of Transportation to help prevent children who live and attend school near U.S. 95 from being exposed to increased levels of dangerous highway air pollution. In addition to calling for a national study to characterize toxic air pollution from highways to gain a better understanding of how these substances behave, this settlement included the following provisions to protect children and communities surrounding the U.S. 95 expansion:
- Pollution monitoring and air filtration systems designed to reduce toxic air pollution at three schools next to U.S. 95: Fyfe and Adcock Elementary Schools, and Western High School.
- Relocation of three portable buildings and the kindergarten playground at Fyfe Elementary School to a greater distance from the highway.
- Funds to help ensure that the current redesign of Western High School minimizes students' exposure to toxic air pollution.
- $1 million to retrofit Clark County School District buses to reduce diesel emissions.
- Outreach and education to reduce idling time of diesel vehicles.
Learn more about Sierra Club Legal Hero Jane Feldman and her work on this project!
June 1, 2004
Sierra Club is back on the beat to stop to the Bush Administration’s negligence of public health in its attempts to build a 10-lane freeway outside of Las Vegas. After hearing oral arguments in March, Judge Pro ruled that the highway planning was not arbitrary. However, on April 28 the Club filed an appeal that includes significant new information about the increased risk of cancer for residents and schoolchildren along the proposed corridor. Now, the Club has filed an injunction to halt any work on the highway until the Appeals Court rules on the case later this summer.
“We believe it’s not too late to make changes to this project that’ll improve air quality and improve traffic. There’s a better way to serve the transportation needs of Las Vegas,” said Joanne Spalding, attorney for the Sierra Club. The organization has proposed several alternatives, including a light-rail lined, clean-air systems for homes and schools in the area, and relocating people from the areas most at risk.
March 5, 2004
Las Vegas is the site of casinos. . . and one of the most important environmental cases currently brewing in the federal courts. Club lawyers just finished arguing in front of the federal court there that will determine whether the Bush Administration must start protecting public health when it builds huge freeways right through the heart of communities. At issue in the case is the Administration's plan to condemn and demolish hundreds of buildings to blast a 10-lane freeway through some of the oldest neighborhoods in northwest Las Vegas. The central issue in the case is whether the Administration must evaluate the effect of toxic gases from the proposed freeway on neighborhood residents. If successful, the case will open a new chapter in the battle of communities against ill-conceived highway projects.
May 1, 2003
Round one went to the Sierra Club in its fight to protect communities from the tons of toxic chemicals spewed along major freeways. In February 2003, the Club won a significant victory in its lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration for refusing to address the impacts of air toxics to communities abutting a major freeway expansion in northwest Las Vegas. The government tried to squelch the Club’s lawsuit by arguing that it was brought too late. The judge rejected the government’s position and noted that the Club had made numerous efforts to convince the agency to act before filing suit.
Details and Documents:
Characteristics of a Diesel Particulate Matter Surrogate, Black Carbon, at Several Schools Next to U.S. 95 in Las Vegas
Prepared by Paul T. Roberts, Joey V. Landreneua, and David L. Vaughn of Sonoma Technology, Inc. and Patrick A. Mohn of the Nevada Department of Transportation; September 2007 (Study prepared in accordance with Sierra Club settlement)
That Odor Is Highway Construction
September 8, 2007 by Road Warrior, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Widening U.S. Highway 95: Unclogging the Artery
July 3, 2005 by Geoff Schumacher, Las Vegas Review-Journal
US-95 Construction Will Resume This Fall
June 28, 2005 by Brian Allen, Reporter for Channel 8 Eyewitness News, KLAS TV
Sierra Club Settlement: Way clear to widen freeway
June 28, 2005 by Omar Sofradzija, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sierra Club to drop lawsuit over U.S. 95; Deal calls for measures to monitor air pollution along expanded interstate
June 27, 2005 by Stephen Curran, Las Vegas Sun
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.