Art & Culture

MTV Settles SnowGlobe Environmental Lawsuit and the Future of Other California Festivals

Laura Lee
Feb 19, 2020

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has sued the SnowGlobe Music Festival on the grounds that the 2018 event was responsible for higher benzene levels in the air than is acceptable under California’s Proposition 65. Benzene is a carcinogenic compound that promotes reproductive toxicity. According to the Tahoe Daily Tribue, the CEH raised concerns that diesel-powered machinery like trucks, buses, and generators could have raised the benzene levels of the air on the festival grounds. In January of 2019, they gave SnowGlobe a 60-day notice of violation of Proposition 65, then in December of the same year, they filed a suit.

“We were really focusing on the reproductive harm because the typical audience at a music festival is younger people, so there are a lot of young women that either could be pregnant or want to get pregnant so we’re concerned about protecting those people,” CEH Senior Scientist Carol Cox told the Tribune. The matter is set for a motion for consent judgment trial on March 17th at the Alameda County Court.

SnowGlobe kicked off their annual festival in 2010 and has since had headlines such as Zedd, Post Malone, Above & Beyond, Eric Prydz, Diplo, and Kendrick Lamar. The festival’s founder, Chad Donnelly, had previously promoted a Colorado event called SnowBall Music Festival. Spokespeople on behalf of SnowGlobe have issued the following statement:

“CEH’s Proposition 65 lawsuit is about not having warning signs on-site during the 2018 Festival. SnowGlobe disputes that the 2018 Festival operations released “significant amounts” of benzene, as CEH alleged, or any amount of benzene above California’s highly conservative “safe harbor” levels. SnowGlobe also disputes that CEH used a valid method for determining benzene exposures at the 2018 Festival. In 2019, as a precautionary measure to avoid further litigation, SnowGlobe posted warning signs, although SnowGlobe strongly disputes that there were any exposures to benzene due to Festival operations above California’s “safe harbor” levels. Because of SnowGlobe’s commitment to the environment and to avoid litigation with this environmental group, it has entered into a settlement with CEH regarding the Proposition 65 warning sign requirements. Our long- term goal for SnowGlobe is to transition into a completely sustainable event — an ambition inspired both by the South Lake Tahoe community’s culture of environmentalism and our team’s personal belief in the importance of conscientious and ethical event planning. We’re happy to report that with guidance from the amazing team at Waste Free Earth, we’ve made significant steps year over year towards reaching our goal.”