Environmentalists Blast Go-Ahead for Monster Distribution Center in Southern California

The federally protected San Jacinto Valley crownscale, a bushy plant endemic to western Riverside County, California. (By Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceFlickr: Atriplex coronata var. notatior (San Jacinto Valley crownscale), Public Domain, Link)

(CN) — Conservationists say a proposed distribution hub and mega-warehouse near the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Southern California will introduce tons of pollution to the region due to the high volume of truck traffic.

The plaintiffs represented by Earthjustice seek an injunction over what they say are violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and because there is a pending appeal on the mega-warehouse project.

The developers say the proposed distribution hub will generate thousands of jobs in the Moreno Valley area.

In 2015, the project received approval from the city of Moreno Valley, but a Riverside Superior Court judge found the developer’s environmental impact review lacking details on mitigation efforts for greenhouse gasses in 2018.

This year, environmental advocacy groups appealed the approval of a new environmental impact report that was given the green light by the Moreno Valley Planning Commission this past May. Oral arguments are scheduled for Aug. 5 in the state’s Fourth Appellate District, according to Earthjustice attorney Adrian Martinez.

The World Logistics Center’s revised environmental impact report was given final approval last month by the Moreno Valley City Council in a 3-1 vote, with one abstention.

Plaintiffs Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Sierra Club and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society claim in their 39-page complaint filed in state court that that warehouse with its 40 million square feet of floor space will produce roughly 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. But the developer’s claim over three quarters of the emissions do not need to be analyzed or offset because they are “capped” by the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and mobile source emissions — like those from trucks — fall into that category, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs point to the opinion by the Fourth Appellate Court District in June that refutes a greenhouse gas mitigation effort cited by the developers of the mega warehouse.

According to the plaintiffs, the appellate court found that purchasing greenhouse gas credits from a California Air Resources Board-approved registry violates CEQA by “failing to ensure adequate standards for offsets listed by carbon registries (including offsets from international sources), and improperly deferring and delegating formulation of mitigation.”

They claim the revised final impact report does not properly address the increase of greenhouse gas emissions in and around the city of Moreno Valley and impacts to traffic, public health and air quality.

“This massive facility will be a climate and air-quality disaster, flooding the nearby community with millions of tons of greenhouse gases every year,” said Martinez in a statement. “Instead of taking the necessary steps to mitigate these harmful impacts, Moreno Valley is letting the developer evade any responsibility, ignoring the tremendous problems this project will cause.”

The San Jacinto Wildlife Area is home to threatened and endangered plant life and burrowing owls, all of which will be affected by the distribution hub according to the plaintiffs.

The city of Moreno Valley is a named defendant, while real estate developers Highland Fairview, HF Properties, Sunnymead Properties and others are named as real parties in interest.

The city of Moreno Valley did not immediately respond to an email for comment.

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