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For Immediate Release, May 14, 2009


Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5309 or (415) 310-1549 (cell)

California Court Blocks Wal-Mart Supercenter:
Wal-Mart Violated California Law by Ignoring Climate Change

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.— Today a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge overturned the controversial approval of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter near Joshua Tree National Park because the project’s environmental study improperly dismissed the impacts from the project’s greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

“The court agreed that Wal-Mart broke the law by refusing to even consider common-sense measures to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of its latest big-box store,” said Matt Vespa, senior attorney with the Center’s Climate Law Institute.“ California law requires consideration of greenhouse emissions and other environmental impacts from new development, and it is only fair that Wal-Mart comply with this important requirement.”

The lawsuit is one of a series of court challenges brought by the Center to reduce greenhouse gases from new development through the California Environmental Quality Act. The Act mandates that where an environmental impact is determined to be significant, all feasible mitigation measures must be adopted to substantially lessen the impact.

In its environmental review for the proposed project, which is located close to Joshua Tree National Park in Joshua tree woodland, habitat for the imperiled desert tortoise, Wal-Mart attempted to avoid adopting feasible measures to reduce the carbon footprint of its Supercenter by determining that the project’s cumulative impact to global warming was less than significant. The court rejected Wal-Mart’s finding that the project’s impacts were not significant as unsupported and contrary to science.

“Wal-Mart talks a lot about fighting global warming, but when it comes to actually taking action, it bent over backwards to avoid incorporating cost-effective features like solar panels to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Matt Vespa. “The enormous disconnect between Wal-Mart’s stated environmental goals and its actions is classic greenwashing.”

The court also ruled that the environmental study illegal for several other reasons. It neglected measures to reduce ozone and dust pollution, and environmentally superior alternatives. The environmental study also disregarded data that the Supercenter would result in “urban decay,” a process that causes other local stores to go out of business.

“Business-as-usual big box sprawl is devastating to our environment and communities,” said Vespa. “California law requires Wal-Mart to take stronger steps to live up to its promise to reduce significant environmental impacts like global warming.”

Visit the Center’s Web site for more information on our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the California Environmental Quality.

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