San Joaquin Valley Air District Sets New Air Pollution Fees; Litigation Helped Pave the Way
September 22, 2008
Almost three years ago the San Joaquin Valley took a major step toward reducing air pollution by unanimously passing Rule 9510. The Rule (detailed below) helped reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air from levels that were nearly the worst in the country, to more manageable levels. Recently, however, the National Association of Homebuilders brought suit against the San Joaquin Valley District claiming that the Rule was preempted by the Federal Clean Air Act and therefore exceeded the San Joaquin Valley’s authority to enforce it. The Sierra Club intervened in the case to help defend the Rule, and District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill quickly ruled against the Homebuilders and ordered that the Rule be upheld. The Sierra Club is very pleased with the outcome, and will continue to work toward reducing air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley.
Update - December 15, 2005
The San Joaquin Valley Air District took a historic step in mid-December when it voted unanimously to adopt a new rule requiring air pollution offset fees. The rule, which will go into effect on March 1, requires developers of large residential, commercial, and industrial projects to reduce smog-forming and particulate emissions from their projects or pay a mitigation fee. The rule relies on information showing that new developments lead to increased air pollution even after they are built because as new residents move in they bring additional cars and add vehicle trips and emissions. The rule is a significant victory for local activists in the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club, who have mounted a campaign that includes legal work to reduce air pollution in the Central Valley and mitigate the impacts of new developments in the Bakersfield area. The campaign has set in motion several city and regional policy developments, and has even led to increased use of solar panels in new buildings.
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