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Brown Announces Landmark Global Warming Settlement

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a “landmark settlement” of the state’s global warming lawsuit against San Bernardino County. The agreement, approved today by the County Board of Supervisors, establishes a unique greenhouse gas reduction plan that will identify sources of emissions and set feasible reduction targets for the County.

“San Bernardino now sets the pace for how local government can adopt powerful measures to combat oil dependency and climate disruption. This landmark agreement establishes one of the first greenhouse gas reduction plans in California. It is a model that I encourage other cities and counties to adopt,” Brown told a news conference at the Attorney General’s Office in downtown Los Angeles.

Under today’s agreement, the County will embark upon a thirty month public process aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions attributable to land use decisions and County government operations. The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan mandates the following:

• An inventory of all known, or reasonably discoverable, sources of greenhouse gases in the County.
• An inventory of the greenhouse gas emissions level in 1990, currently, and that projected for the year 2020.
• A target for the reduction of emissions attributable to the county’s discretionary land use decisions and its own internal government operations.

Commenting on the agreement, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Gary C. Ovitt said, “Only a handful of California counties and cities have formally addressed climate change issues, and San Bernardino County will lead the way in the implementation of strategies and steps to enhance our future and serve as a model for others.”

Under California law, the state is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and then reducing 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Currently, California generates approximately 500 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, significantly above 1990 levels. To achieve the 2020 target, California must reduce current emissions by at least 25%.

“Local government action to combat global warming is absolutely essential to meet the goals which Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature set forth in AB 32,” Brown asserted.

To date, the Attorney General has submitted formal comments, under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), to San Bernardino, San Diego, Sacramento, Orange County, Merced, Kern, Fresno, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Richmond, and San Jose.

On their own, the following communities in California are already initiating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Marin, Palo Alto, Chula Vista, Modesto and Healdsburg.

Feasible mitigations include the following:

• High-density developments that reduce vehicle trips and utilize public transit.
• Parking spaces for high-occupancy vehicles and car-share programs.
• Electric vehicle charging facilities and conveniently located alternative fueling stations.
• Limits on parking.
• Transportation impact fees on developments to fund public transit service.
• Regional transportation centers where various types of public transportation meet.
• Energy efficient design for buildings, appliances, lighting and office equipment.
• Solar panels, water reuse systems and on-site renewable energy production.
• Methane recovery in landfills and wastewater treatment plants to generate electricity.
• Carbon emissions credit purchases that fund alternative energy projects.

Today’s settlement resolves a lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General in April, contesting the adequacy of San Bernardino’s general plan under the California Environmental Quality Act. Brown contended that the plan, a blueprint for the physical development of land until year 2030, did not adequately analyze the effects of development on global warming nor did it identify feasible mitigation measures.

San Bernardino currently generates about 10 trips per household per day, and over 84% of the work trips are made by car. The County, one of the fastest growing in California, projects a 25% increase in population, more than 400,000 people.

The settlement agreement is attached.

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