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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

Group sues over air quality credits

August 19, 2008|From the Associated Press

A coalition of environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against Southern California's anti-smog agency Monday, accusing it of allowing companies to pollute by selling them invalid emission credits.

The lawsuit accuses the South Coast Air Quality Management District of selling the bogus credits "to countless polluting facilities" for nearly two decades.

The credits are required by state and federal law for companies seeking to expand operations and emit more pollution. The conservationists charge that the air district's cache of emission credits was used up long ago, but that it sold companies bogus credits allotted for public-service projects.

The agency covers Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The coalition accuses the agency of violating the federal Clean Air Act, which requires credits to be enforceable, quantifiable and permanent.

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