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Brown Challenges Local Governments To Plan For A Low-Carbon Future

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today invited more than five hundred mayors, local planning directors, and county Supervisors to attend statewide workshops where they can learn practical ways to combat global warming by reducing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

"California must adopt the necessary changes that will encourage economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases,' Attorney General Brown said. 'This difficult transition from our current escalating dependence on fossil fuel, demands that cities and counties encourage maximum building efficiency and innovative land-use.

The Global Warming Solutions act, AB 32, requires California to cut greenhouse gas emission to 1990 levels by 2020, but the rules and market mechanisms will not take effect until 2012. Meanwhile, local government will make hundreds, if not thousands, of planning decisions that will have decades-long implications. Brown has called upon local officials to take action now to limit long-term greenhouse gas emissions.
Encouraging local officials to meet with the attorney general's office, Brown said, 'These workshops will launch the first statewide movement to reduce the negative impact of local planning decisions on global climate.'

In 534 letters mailed statewide today, Brown invited public officials from all 58 California counties and nearly 200 cities to join the attorney general's office for regional conferences on climate change and the California Environmental Quality Act. The Act requires local agencies to analyze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from projects with significant impact, including regional transportation and development plans.

During the upcoming workshops--to be held from March to May in Oakland, Sacramento, Visalia, Los Angeles and Monterey--methods of modeling greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed in detail. Representatives of the Attorney General's Office and the Governor's Climate Action Team will brief the local officials about how government at all levels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the questions that will be addressed at the workshops include:

* How should cities and counties analyze the global warming-related impacts of development?
* What mitigation strategies should local governments employ to reduce their CO2 emissions?
* How can cities and counties undertake the required analysis efficiently and on limited budgets?

To date, the Attorney General has submitted formal comments to twenty three local jurisdictions throughout the state under CEQA, encouraging them to evaluate and avoid or reduce the increases in CO2 emissions caused by land use decisions. Attorney General Brown has also reached landmark agreements with San Bernardino County and ConcoPhillips on specific greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

Other local jurisdictions across California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Marin, Palo Alto, Chula Vista, Modesto and Healdsburg are also initiating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Berkeley, for example, is developing an innovative program that funds solar projects with public monies and allows the property owners to repay the city through property tax assessments. Other greenhouse gas mitigation strategies being employed across California are the following:

* High-density developments that reduce vehicle trips and utilize public transit.
* Electric vehicle charging facilities and conveniently located alternative fueling stations.
* 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.

In addition, over one hundred and twenty California cities have joined the Cool Cities campaign which commits the local jurisdictions to take concrete steps including the development of greenhouse gas emissions inventories and a local Climate Action Plan to fight global warming.

In July 2007, Alameda County became one of twelve charter members of the Cool Counties initiative. Participating counties establish a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and regional plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below current levels by 2050.

Recently, Attorney General Brown expanded the Department of Justice Website to provide information that can help local agencies join the fight against global warming: http://ag.ca.gov/globalwarming/ceqa.php

Brown sent letters to 534 local government officials: cities with populations greater than 50,000, 178 Mayors, 171 Planning Departments, 58 County Board of Supervisors Chairs or Presidents, 58 County Planning Agency Directors, 33 Councils of Government and 36 Air Quality Control Districts.

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