Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Law To Curb GHG From Sprawl

Sep 30: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he has signed SB 375 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which builds on the State law AB 32, California's first-in-the-nation law to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by adding the nation's first law to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl. Governor Schwarzenegger said, "This landmark bill takes California's fight against global warming to a whole new level, and it creates a model that the rest of the country and world will use. When it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, California is first in tackling car emissions, first to tackle low-carbon fuels, and now with this landmark legislation, we are the first in the nation to tackle land-use planning. What this will mean is more environmentally-friendly communities, more sustainable developments, less time people spend in their cars, more alternative transportation options and neighborhoods we can safely and proudly pass on to future generations."

According to a release from the Governor, in order to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, "Californians need to rethink how we design our communities." SB 375 does this by providing emissions-reduction goals around which regions can plan-integrating disjointed planning activities and providing incentives for local governments and developers to follow new conscientiously-planned growth patterns.

SB 375 enhances the Air Resources Board's (ARB) ability to reach AB 32 goals by directing ARB to develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035. ARB will also work with California's 18 metropolitan planning organizations to align their regional transportation, housing and land-use plans and prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" to reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled in their respective regions and demonstrate the region's ability to attain its greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Governor indicates, "Spending less time on the road is the single-most powerful way for California to reduce its carbon footprint."

Additionally, SB 375 provides incentives for creating attractive, walkable and sustainable communities and revitalizing existing communities. The bill also allows home builders to get relief from certain environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act if they build projects consistent with the new sustainable community strategies. It will also encourage the development of more alternative transportation options, which will promote healthy lifestyles and reduce traffic congestion.

Ann Notthoff, California advocacy director for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, “Putting cleaner cars on the road and filling their tanks with cleaner fuel isn’t enough to achieve our pollution reduction goals as long as the number of miles we drive continues to grow out of control. That’s why this law is so great. It is the missing piece in California’s plan to reduce global warming pollution. By giving people a choice to get out of their cars once in a while we can take a big bite out of our global warming pollution, and save drivers money too. We know that better planning works. On average, Americans living in compact neighborhoods where cars are not the only transportation option drive one-third fewer miles. Besides reducing global warming pollution, this also saves people money at the gas pump."

Access a release from Governor Schwarzenegger with links to related information (click here). Access a Fact Sheet on the new law (click here). Access legislative details for SB 375 (click here). Access the California Climate Change portal for extensive information (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*Climate, *Land]