Danielle Falknor 6:30 p.m., March 11
Attorney General Intervenes in SANDAG Regional Transit Plan Lawsuit
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced this afternoon that she has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that would subject the Regional Transit Plan drafted by the San Diego Association of Governments to additional review.
The environmental groups Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity originally filed suit in November 2011, claiming that “[the San Diego association] used a deficient process to develop a flawed plan that will invest heavily in freeways at the expense of public transit, increase pollution and exacerbate global climate change.”
Harris agrees with the lawsuit’s assertion that the Environmental Impact Report that accompanied the plan does not adequately address air pollution and climate concerns. In September 2011, prior to the San Diego agency's adoption of the plan, Harris sent a letter advising that the draft environmental impact report associated with the plan was insufficient to satisfy California Environmental Quality Act requirements.
“The 3.2 million residents of the San Diego region already suffer from the seventh worst ozone pollution in the country,” said Harris in a release from the Attorney General’s office. “Spending our transit dollars in the right way today will improve the economy, create sustainable jobs and ensure that future generations do not continue to suffer from heavily polluted air.”
Among Harris’ objections to the plan are projections that while greenhouse gas emissions initially decrease, projections show them rising again after 2020 and overall driving-related pollution continuing to increase through at least 2050. Further, the plan front loads spending on freeway and road construction, deferring investment in transit and bicycling/walking paths until such a time that funds for such projects may have already been exhausted.