Three environmental groups based in the San Joaquin Valley filed suit against the University of California campus planned for Merced County and others Tuesday, seeking to stop or slow the construction of a new UC campus near Merced.
Last month, the university's regents approved the project's final environmental impact report and plans for its central facilities, setting the stage for a groundbreaking in May.
Environmental activists warned then that they would file suit to try to block construction. They have accused university officials of piecemeal planning and failing to adequately address the environmental effects of the project.
In the suit, filed in Merced County Superior Court, three groups--the San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and Central Valley Safe Environment Network--ask for an injunction against all activity related to the project, until the university is found to be in compliance with applicable environmental laws. It also asks for all approvals so far to be set aside. "We believe they've violated the Environmental Quality Act and are trying to get them to comply," said Steve Burke, spokesman for Modesto-based Protect Our Water.
UC Merced spokesman James Grant said the university had been diligent in complying with all applicable laws.
Grant said university officials are confident their plans will withstand the legal challenge.