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Supreme Court Allows San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Rule to Stand



October 6, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing California's San Joaquin Valley to keep "charging" homebuilders for the air pollution their developments create. The Indirect Source Rule took effect in March of 2006 as a way to combat the Valley's out-of-control air pollution.

Paul Cook, an attorney with Earthjustice, says the rule provides incentives for "smart development."

"The San Joaquin Valley is a largely rural area. What you saw were these developers buying cheap land, converting agricultural land and contributing to really rapid sprawl."

The rule requires developers to mitigate for the pollution created by both the construction equipment used to build the project as well as the new automobile traffic generated by the development. The National Association of Homebuilders had sought to invalidate the rule, claiming that only the federal government can regulate these activities. Cook says he would like to see the San Joaquin rule become a national model.

Gordon Nipp with the Bakersfield chapter of the Sierra Club sees no reason homebuilders should get a "free pass."

"The Indirect Source Rule only offsets about half of the air pollution associated with these projects. And of course, when new projects go in, our air gets dirtier. They really ought to be doing more than the Indirect Source Rule requires them to do."

Nipp credits some developers who are doing more than what's required. For example, he says developers such as Castle and Cook have signed agreements with the air district to offset all of the air pollution associated with their projects.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA
 

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