Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 11, 2015

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 490-0223,

Lawsuit Filed to Save Air Quality in Imperial County

Suit Targets New Paving-credit Plan That Pollutes Air, Threatens Imperiled Lizard

EL CENTRO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today challenging the legality and effectiveness of an emissions-exchange plan adopted by Imperial County Air Pollution Control District.

The district’s new rule would allow credit awarded for paving unpaved roads — thereby reducing the emission of large dust particles — to be used to offset increased emissions of smaller particles from diesel exhaust and other sources. But the rule could actually lead to an increase in the smallest particulate emissions, which are especially dangerous for human health. Increasing the paved road network would also increase habitat fragmentation and roadkill, spread invasive weeds and increase roadside pollutants.

“Imperial County residents already suffer from some of the worst air quality in the nation, yet the rule the air district adopted will only increase pollution,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Paved roads also do more harm to wildlife habitat and increase roadkill. The county wrongly approved this rule without properly considering these harms.”

The lawsuit alleges that before adopting the rule, the district failed to adequately assess environmental impacts to air quality and public health in the Imperial Valley. It also failed to consider the harm that paving roads might inflict on wildlife such as the imperiled flat-tailed horned lizard, a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act whose long-term survival depends on protection of remaining habitat in Imperial Valley. 

The lawsuit filed today in Imperial County Superior Court under the California Environmental Quality Act challenges the lack of adequate environmental review by the District before adopting the rule. The Center is represented by Chatten-Brown and Carstens in this lawsuit.   

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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