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Tulare County Judge Approves Settlement Sought by Attorney General Lockyer to Ensure CEQA Review of Dairy Projects
Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against the Tulare County Resource Management Agency that will result in the environmental impact review of the expanded operation planned by Airosa Dairy.
"The lawsuit was brought to have the major dairy expansion project reviewed for its environmental impact as required by the California Environmental Quality Act," Lockyer said. "This settlement now ensures that any potential damage to Tulare County's drinking water supplies and the environment are fully analyzed and mitigated."
The Tulare County Superior Court accepted the proposed settlement with the county and dairy on Tuesday. The Airosa Dairy is seeking to establish a 3,600 animal-unit dairy. Tulare County, which has the most dairies of any county in the United States, had allowed the Airosa project to proceed on a "negative declaration," which excluded the dairy from conducting an environmental impact report. The Attorney General challenged the action, contending that the major dairy expansion project required an environmental impact report under CEQA.
Under the settlement, Tulare County will amend its General Plan by adding an Animal Waste Management Element and complete a county-wide environmental impact review by December 31, 1999. Airosa Dairy agreed to suspend its expansion project and submit the proposal for review. The Attorney General agreed to drop the lawsuit if the environmental impact review process is completed as required by the settlement.
"This settlement is a good blueprint for addressing environmental review of dairy projects," Lockyer said, noting that there are other dairy expansion projects pending in other counties.