In an unusual twist in California's sprawling Central Valley, environmental and public health advocates have joined forces with the local air quality district - an agency they have sued in the past for not doing enough to clean the air.
"Three clean-air activist groups announced Tuesday (Oct. 31) they will try to join the legal defense of an air quality rule that will bring in millions of dollars from builders to reduce pollution from city sprawl."
"The groups - Fresno-based Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Environmental Defense and the Sierra Club - support the local air district against builders and other groups, which sued the district in June over the rule."
"In the lawsuit, builders contend the rule contains fees that amount to an illegal tax. Clean-air activists, who call the measure 'indispensable,' are scheduled Dec. 6 in Fresno County Superior Court to make a motion to intervene."
"The goal of the rule is to reduce bad air caused by traffic from new homes, businesses, commercial buildings and schools built on the edge of cities."
"Local air authorities estimate the fees from the new rule would raise $103 million from construction over the next three years."
"But builders can reduce the fees by installing such features such as outdoor outlets for electric lawn mowers, bike lanes and energy-efficient water heaters."