Martin J. Bennett, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Sonoma County is one of the most environmentally conscious places in California. Through conservation of open space, protection of the coast, organic farming, investments in rail transit, clean power, smart growth policies and a GoLocal cooperative, residents have tried to preserve natural beauty, reduce greenhouse gasses, and create a sustainable economy. However, the proposed expansion of the Wal-Mart discount store in Rohnert Park to become a supercenter selling both general merchandise and groceries undermines these efforts.
The Rohnert Park City Council approved the proposed expansion in 2010 but a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Sierra Club and Sonoma County Conservation Action in a suit claiming the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was flawed. Wal-Mart has now submitted a revised EIR that the City Council will soon consider (details below).
A supercenter will increase dependency on the automobile and increase traffic in an already congested 101 corridor; the supercenter operations and its supply chain will increase greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air quality in the region; and Wal-Mart campaign contributions will support candidates opposed to environmental protection.
A recent report by the Institute of Local Self Reliance, “Walmart’s Assault on the Climate,” cites Wal-Mart’s own documents to show that its total carbon emissions since 2005 have increased by 14 percent and reached 21 million metric tons in 2013. According to the report, Wal-Mart is one of the largest climate polluters in the nation; the company lags behind its peers in shifting to clean energy; and Wal-Mart admits that their greenhouse gas emissions will climb over the next decade. Why?