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Sustainability Program

Air, Urban and Energy Programs

Environment Now’s Sustainability Programs aim to create a more sustainable South Coast region by:

  • Reducing air pollution to zero health risks by 2014
  • Encouraging infill development
  • Fighting urban sprawl
  • Reducing fossil fuel consumption

As California’s population grows, the state is finding it ever more difficult to control air pollution and preserve open space. Although the state has made tremendous progress in controlling air pollution, especially smog, thousands still die each year from breathing unhealthy air. Urban sprawl rapidly consumes open space and increases commutes throughout the region, thereby exacerbating the air quality problem. Environment Now works to ensure that California meets the demands of its growing population while continuing to make progress on reducing our impact on the environment.

Over the past thirty years, California’s efforts to clean the air have been extremely successful. Still, the majority of Southern Californians live in areas with unhealthy air and after many years of decreasing overall emissions, recent smog trends have flattened.

South Coast Smog Trend
 Picture courtesy of South Coast Air Quality Management District

The state is required to reach compliance with the federal Clean Air Act’s goals for healthy air, though it is still unclear how it will achieve that goal. Most of the easy sources of air pollution reduction have already been implemented, leaving difficult choices ahead. The remaining reductions must come from seaports and airports, the transportation system for imported goods, consumer products, and personal vehicles-- which are getting cleaner, but people are driving more. Importantly, because air pollution impacts areas within the region disproportionately, California not only needs overall reductions in pollution, but especially where people are most affected. Environment Now uses litigation, advocacy and citizen activism in the fight for clean air.

Environment Now actively seeks new ways to accommodate California’s growing populations without further expanding urban boundaries. Unmanaged growth causes a loss of precious green space and exacerbates air quality problems. Infill development is one key to smarter growth. Infill development transforms vacant, blighted or underutilized sites within urban areas near established transportation corridors into new thriving communities. With better land use, we reduce automobile usage, energy consumption and our dependence on fossil fuels.

Environment Now’s Sustainability Programs link and incorporate air quality, energy and urban issues. Addressing these issues leads to addressing local and regional quality-of-life issues such as traffic congestion, loss of open space, auto-dependency, and the disconnect between the location of jobs and housing. In other words, environmental issues are the issues of everyday life.

Current Program Focus:

The central component of the Sustainability Programs for almost ten years has been the Dump Dirty Diesel campaign with partners the Natural Resources Defense Council and Coalition for Clean Air.  The diesel campaign remains at the center of a broader strategy that will address stationary, or major fixed sources of air pollution, as well as nondiesel mobile pollution. Additionally, Environment Now’s strategy is beginning to directly address land use and urban sprawl with air quality by ensuring regional transportation plans conform to the goals of the Clean Air Act.

  • Enforce Unfulfilled State Implementation Plan (SIP) Commitments: Environment Now is working with Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment on behalf of the Association of Irritated Residents and with cooperation from Natural Resources Defense Council to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take action on the 2003 State SIP, San Joaquin Valley, and South Coast Air Quality Management Plans.
  • Reduce Railroad Locomotive Emissions: Locomotives are currently one of the largest remaining under-regulated emission source categories, who are responsible for more than 36 tons per day of smog- and particulate- forming oxides of nitrogen. Environment Now and program partner, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice are working to ensure the California Air Resources Board performs its duties and mandates enforceable measures and maximum reductions for railroad pollution through the 2007 State Implementation Plan (now under consideration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
  • Dump Dirty Diesel Campaign. The highly polluting diesel ships, trucks trains, cranes and forklifts used in California’s goods movement system are a major source of California’s diesel air pollution. The Air Resources Board recently estimated that, if left unregulated, the ports alone would constitute the largest source of pollution in the state by 2020–more than every car and truck on the road together. For this reason, diesel will remain Environment Now’s primary strategic air quality target. Environment Now is approaching a critical time for evaluating the air pollution reductions obtained by the China Shipping settlement. 

Port Ships
Picture courtesy of NRDC

  • Stationary Sources–Title V Enforcement.
    The Sustainability Programs are also focusing on improving air quality from stationary sources; stationary and area sources account for approximately 20% of ground level ozone. Environment Now and program partner the California Environmental Rights Alliance have an opportunity to leverage successful litigation against two of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) Title V permitted facilities and to reform oversight of the over 600 Title V stationary sources in the basin. Title V requires the SCAQMD to consolidate multiple permits for polluters to make the permits more enforceable, however the agency has made it a formality, rather than an priority, for cleaning up Southern California’s air. Environment Now and California Environmental Rights Alliance will press the SCAQMD into making enforceable permits and requiring the polluters to pay.


  • Linking Land Use and Air Quality Through Aerial Deposition and Conformity Requirements. Nondiesel mobile sources are a significant source of pollution as they account for 40% of ground-level ozone. Environment Now continues to develop legal actions and scientific investigations addressing this pollution through aerial deposition into coastal waters. Environment Now is also working with the region’s governing agencies as they preparing transportation and land-use plans culminating with a determination in 2007/2008 that the plans conform to air quality goals. Environment Now along with its program partner Endangered Habitats League will participate in the determination process to ensure that environmental concerns are met.
  • Indirect Source Rule. Environment Now is working with Environmental Defense to ensure the implementation and expansion of an Indirect Source Rule program, which forces developers to either reduce emissions from suburban developments or pay a fee to mitigate the pollution these projects generate.

New Housing Development

Past Program Focus:

Energy Independence Now

Environment Now continues to support efforts that have a measurable impact on helping California reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Our past successes include establishing Energy Independence Now, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the transition to clean, renewable energy and transportation in California.

Tejon Working Group

Environment Now previously helped to establish the Tejon Working Group. This collaborative association is comprised of residents, planners, biologists, conservationists and nonprofit organizations allied to conserve the Tejon Ranch. Tejon Ranch covers approximately 270,000 acres (over 430 square miles) of unique natural land just north of Los Angeles. The Tejon Working Group is focused on halting any existing or future development until a collaborative planning process can be implemented. For more information visit:  Center on Biological Diversity and Save Tejon Ranch

Brownfields and Infill

Program partner the Center for Creative Land Recycling and Environment Now are focusing on brownfields reclamation in the Southern California’s urban core, and thereby encouraging infill development.

Climate Change

In a potentially precedent-setting initiative, program partner Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit challenging the California Reclamation Board’s failure to address the impacts of climate change and the growing urbanization in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.