Health and Environment Groups Support Adoption of Air District Greenhouse Gas and Toxics Standards

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Andy Katz, Breathe California, (510) 848-5001
Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 310-1549

Health and Environment Groups Support Adoption of Air District Greenhouse Gas and Toxics Standards

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - A coalition of health and environmental organizations is supporting
the adoption of standards for greenhouse gases and toxics proposed by
the Bay Area Air Quality Management District as part of environmental
review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Projects that do
not meet these thresholds would be required to take feasible measures
to reduce their emissions.

“The greenhouse gas
thresholds proposed by the Air District are a serious response to a
serious problem and will help achieve desperately needed reductions in
greenhouse gas pollution,” said Matt Vespa, a senior attorney at the
Center for Biological Diversity.

Said Andy Katz,
air quality advocate for Breathe California, “These thresholds will
help protect public health and the climate.” 

The
state of California has recognized that greenhouse gas emissions must
be analyzed under its Environmental Quality Act since 1997. However,
there has been considerable uncertainty among local governments about
how such emissions should be addressed. Under the District’s proposal,
projects with greenhouse gas emissions of less than 1,100 tons (roughly
the equivalent, for instance, of 56 single-family homes) or a
well-designed, transit-oriented development meeting a
4.6-tons-per-capita efficiency metric would not be subject to
additional review.

Organizations writing to the
Air District in support of the proposed thresholds include Breathe
California, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, the
Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenbelt Alliance, Planning and
Conservation League, and Interfaith Power and Light.

The
proposal also includes standards for cumulative toxics exposure. If
total pollution from all local sources causes high rates of cancer risk
or high levels of fine particulates, projects will need to use cleaner
technology to protect public health.

“Communities
need protection from toxic pollution,” continued Katz. “Communities
need these thresholds because many neighborhoods have cancer levels two
to four times above average, and twice as many children with
asthma.” Neighborhood organizations from Richmond, West Oakland,
eastern San Francisco, East Oakland, and San Leandro support the
proposal, and an additional proposal for more stringent protections for
the most affected communities.

Air pollution is a
serious public health threat. Particulate matter (PM2.5), pollution
made up of tiny particles, exacerbates asthma and causes cancer, lung,
and cardiovascular disease. Ozone pollution, or smog, is a pollutant
caused by automobiles and diesel equipment that damages lung tissue,
exacerbates asthma, reduces lung capacity, increases respiratory and
cardiovascular hospitalizations, and increases school and work
absences. Climate change is projected to increase unhealthy air days
from ozone from 10 to 15 days per year to more than 100 days per year
in the Bay Area.

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

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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