For Immediate Release, April 15, 2008
Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Drew Feldmann, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, (909) 881-6081
Steven Farrell, Sierra Club-San Gorgonio Chapter, (661) 449 2867
Southern California Climate Change Cases Win Award
Conservation Groups and State Tie Greenhouse Gases to Sprawl
LOS ANGELES— Conservation groups in California’s Inland Empire and the Attorney General’s office have been given an environmental award for their work to address climate change in land-use decisions. The award focused on a landmark settlement to reduce greenhouse gases and improve conservation in San Bernardino County.
Despite formal comments filed by the state of California and conservation groups, the county ignored laws to address global warming, wildlife protection, and public safety in its long-range plans. A legal challenge was first filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, and a day later by Attorney General Jerry Brown.
“The two lawsuits and the Attorney General’s settlement with San Bernardino County serve as a wake-up call for local governments and developers: greenhouse gas emissions and climate change must be addressed,” read the award granted by Environment Now. The settlement dramatically changed environmental review in California. For example, in 2006 only two environmental reviews addressed greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, but in 2007 more than 220 did.
“Given the impact that this action will have on California, this could be well be the most important conservation action our chapter has done in its 60-year history,” said Drew Feldman, president of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.
“More sprawl and big-box strip malls are no way to solve the climate crisis,” said Jonathan Evans with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Global warming is already affecting San Bernardino, through increased wildfires and drought, and we have to plan for this.”
It was no coincidence the lawsuits targeted San Bernardino County. San Bernardino is the largest county in the contiguous United States, larger in area than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined. Most of the explosive growth in the county will rely on cars and trucks driven by a single driver releasing increasing amounts of greenhouse gas pollution. All three conservation groups have offices in San Bernardino County.
“It is exceedingly gratifying to hear San Bernardino County leaders finally accepting the importance of direct local actions in the worldwide effort to address our global warming crisis,” said Steven Farrell of the Sierra Club, San Gorgonio chapter. “We look forward now to going beyond the words of acknowledgment to get down to the real work of developing policies that will protect our future quality of life. We are optimistic that the County will soon commit to an open process and to collaborative public participation as they search for responsible solutions.”
For a copy of Environment Now’s 2007 Top Achievements Report and other 2007 environmental awards click here. For more on the campaign by the Center for Biological Diversity to require development plans to address global warming, click here.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.www.biologicaldiversity.org
The San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society advocates for protection of wildlife and habitat throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. www.sbvas.org
The Sierra Club is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the nation's natural resources. www.sierraclub.org
Environment Now is a private nonprofit foundation dedicated to creating measurably effective environmental programs to protect and restore California's environment. www.environmentnow.org