For Immediate Release, August 13, 2007
||Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 310-1549, (415) 436-9682 x 309
Anne Richardson, Cornelia Dai, Hadsell & Stormer, (626) 585-9600
Wal-Mart Challenged in Court:
New Supercenter Fails to Evaluate Greenhouse Gas Pollution
RIVERSIDE, Calif.– The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit Thursday challenging the city of Perris’s approval of the Perris Marketplace, a sprawling, 520,000-square-foot, big-box retail development that would include a 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter and generate close to 40,000 daily vehicle trips. The lawsuit challenges the project’s failure to consider measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, as required by California law.
The California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s flagship land-use planning and environmental statute, requires state and local governments to assess and reduce the significant environmental impacts of new projects. Greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming are one of the greatest threats facing Californians’ future, and the law provides an opportunity and a legal mandate for cities to consider options to reduce such emissions and evaluate global warming solutions at a range of scales.
“The city refused to meaningfully address the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the Wal-Mart Supercenter,” said Center staff attorney Matt Vespa. “Wal-Mart’s public-relations department wants you to believe the company is aggressively fighting global warming, but at the end of the day their project fails to meet even the minimum standards required by California law.”
California is particularly vulnerable to global warming, with projections of temperature increases of 8 to 10.5° F, a 90-percent loss of the Sierra snowpack, 22 to 30 inches of sea-level rise, and a four- to six-fold increase in heat-related deaths in major urban centers by the end of the century. Research indicates that the worst of these impacts can still be avoided, but only if action is taken now to sharply reduce emissions.
“Wal-Mart is one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluters. Its annual greenhouse gas emissions, including its supply chain, are equivalent to almost half of the emissions of the entire state of California,” said Vespa. “It is fundamentally unfair to allow approval of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter without the basic environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed several other suits challenging projects that failed to properly address greenhouse gas pollution in the California Environmental Quality Act process. All these cases are ongoing. Additionally, the California Attorney General has brought suit against the county of San Bernardino for failing to properly address greenhouse gas emissions in its General Plan update.
The oil industry and developers have lobbied the governor and legislature for an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act for greenhouse gas emissions. Senate Republicans, who continue to obstruct passage of the state budget for the second straight month, are seeking such an exemption as part of the budget bill. The exemption, if passed, would drastically roll back the state’s efforts to fight global warming.
The Center is represented in the Perris Marketplace case by staff attorney Matt Vespa and the law firm Hadsell & Stormer, Inc.