| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2006
Groups Press On in Lawsuit Against Tejon Industrial Complex
Bakersfield, Calif. – Citing air quality concerns for the San Joaquin Valley, today four public interest groups filed an appeal of a court ruling that allows the Tejon Industrial Complex–East project to proceed.
In 2004, the groups – including the Center for Biological Diversity; Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment; Sierra Club; and Kern Audubon Society – successfully challenged Kern County’s environmental report for the Industrial Complex project. However, in March 2006, a Kern County court concluded that the county’s subsequent rewrite of the report addressed its original defects, leading to today’s appeal.
The Tejon Industrial Complex–East is planned on a 1,109-acre site along Interstate 5 at the extreme southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. It would include up to 15.4 million square feet of industrial and commercial development, consisting mostly of warehouse and distribution facilities. In combination with the partially built Tejon Industrial Complex–West (approximately 4 million square feet at build out), the project represents a dramatic industrialization of the I-5 corridor. Kern County approved the project in 2003 and the groups filed suit, concerned that the project would worsen the already extremely poor air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. These concerns were vindicated by the court’s decision setting aside approval of the project and ordering additional analysis of a broad range of air quality and biological issues.
“Kern County’s latest environmental report still leaves many unanswered questions about the project’s contribution to air pollution in the southern San Joaquin Valley,” said Caroline Farrell, Managing Attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment’s Delano office. One of the outstanding concerns relates to an air mitigation deal struck between the project’s developer, Tejon Ranch Co., and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “Kern County has been rightly skeptical of this agreement, yet has done nothing to address its flaws or protect residents’ health,” said Farrell.
“This massive industrial development is still a long way from becoming a permanent part of southern Kern County’s landscape,” said John Buse, the Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the groups. “We had hoped that Kern County would do a better job of protecting its residents from the air pollution that the project will inevitably bring. With this appeal, we have a chance to achieve what the county failed to do.”