For Immediate Release, July 20, 2020
Aruna Prabhala, Center for Biological Diversity, (408) 691-6272, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawsuit Challenges Sprawling Southern California Mega-warehouse
Moreno Valley OKs 40-million-square-foot Logistics Center Again, Despite Pending Legal Challenges
MORENO VALLEY, Calif.— Environmental-justice and conservation groups have sued the Southern California city of Moreno Valley for approving the massive World Logistics Center, a 40-million-square-foot warehouse project that would worsen already poor air quality and harm wildlife in the nearby San Jacinto Wildlife Area.
“Yet again, Moreno Valley is rubber-stamping another ill-conceived and unlawful plan,” said Adrian Martinez, a staff attorney with Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign. “This massive facility will be a climate and air-quality disaster, flooding the nearby community with millions of tons of greenhouse gases every year. 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.”
About the size of 700 football fields, the World Logistics Center is expected to generate 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution annually and require more than 14,000 truck trips to the site every day. Those trucks would be transporting goods more than 80 miles from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to Moreno Valley, often on two-lane roads that are already congested.
“Southern California doesn’t need yet another mega-warehouse that pollutes our air and heats up our climate while harming local communities and wildlife,” said attorney Aruna Prabhala, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Urban Wildlands program. “It’s disappointing to see Moreno Valley officials repeatedly disregard this massive project’s enormous threats to the climate, wildlife and local residents.”
Initially approved by the city in August 2015, the controversial project was challenged by numerous government agencies, community and environmental groups. A Riverside Superior Court judge ruled that the environmental review for the project was inadequate in June 2018. The ruling was appealed and is currently pending before the 4th District Court of Appeal. In the meantime the city and developer have continued to push forward with the project and reapproved it with a revised environmental impact report last month.
“SR-60, its overpasses, Gilman Springs Road as well as roads within Moreno Valley will become even more clogged and dangerous by the World Logistic Center’s more than 14,000 daily toxic diesel-truck trips and 50,000 polluting cars,” said George Hague, conservation chair of Sierra Club’s Moreno Valley Group. “The city even failed to reduce significant pollution when it failed to require solar over all the millions of square feet of warehousing. The solar panels could have supplied energy to all the robotic and automated equipment that will fill most warehouses.”
“Continuing to ignore strong mitigation measures for the benefit of developers is an injustice to the residents of Moreno Valley and the Inland Empire,” said Ivette Torres, a research and policy analyst with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and lifetime resident of Moreno Valley. “The impacts from the approximately 14,000 added daily truck trips will contribute to the cumulative pollution impacts that are harming frontline communities the most. We cannot allow Highland Fairview to provide false solutions that work against the public health needs of our families.”
The World Logistics Center is also adjacent to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, home to many threatened and endangered wildlife and plants. Among them are the Los Angeles pocket mouse, California golden eagle and numerous other bird species, including the burrowing owl, tricolored blackbird and endangered San Jacinto crownscale. The project area itself is one of the best raptor habitats in the state.
"Birds have already been negatively affected by the glare from the existing warehouses in Moreno Valley. The WLC will increase that impact to another order of magnitude,” said Drew Feldmann, conservation chair of the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.
“This project puts greed and ambition ahead of common sense and public health,” said Chris Chavez, deputy policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air. “We need clean air and responsible warehouse development and this isn’t it.”
The lawsuit was filed on Friday in Riverside County Superior Court by Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity and Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP on behalf of Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Sierra Club and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.