Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Super Center Needs to Consider Carbon Emissions Under CEQA

WalMart's analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is inadequate
Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2009

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge ruled against Wal-Mart’s plan for a super center in the desert city of Yucca Valley, partly on the grounds that the giant retailer failed to take measures to reduce its contribution to global warming.

The retailer contended that the estimated 7,000 metric tons per year of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that would result from the store’s operation was too insignificant to require such measures under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Judge Barry Plotkin, relying on contrary evidence from state air quality officials, ruled otherwise, in a case that signals a growing legal consensus that climate change must be considered by businesses and governments promoting new developments. Judge Plotkin also found the retailer’s economic analysis flawed and the retailer’s analysis of ozone and dust pollution inadequate.

"California is in the forefront," said Matthew Vespa, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued Wal-Mart and Yucca Valley. The center also won a case last year against Desert Hot Springs after the city failed to analyze the GHG emissions that would result from a golf course and 2,600-home development.

Environmental activists have had a powerful ally in California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has won agreements from San Bernardino County, ConocoPhillips, the Port of Los Angeles, the San Diego Airport Authority, and Cilion, a Kern County ethanol plant, to measure or mitigate GHGs.

Read the complete article in the LA Times.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ports' Clean Trucks Programs Under Challenge

Federal Maritime Commission comes under scrutiny
May 19, 2009

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has sued the Federal Maritime Commission for information about why the agency is involved in challenging the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports' new clean trucks programs.

Back in October, the NRDC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Commission related to the agency's review of the programs. Over the last year, the Commission filed a lawsuit against the ports, initiated an administrative investigation, and used procedural hurdles to delay collection of a fee that was designed to raise money for cleaner trucks and spur deployment of cleaner, more efficient trucks.

Read more on the issue in the SF Chronicle and on the NRDC's blog.

Meanwhile, the Port of Oakland still faces tough decisions about how to reduce diesel emissions from trucks, ships, and trains after adoption of its first comprehensive master plan for reducing the air pollution last month. The Port Commission also agreed to restore up to $5 million in funding for grants to trucks to install diesel soot filters required of trucks using ports by a January 1, 2010, state deadline. The Commission had pulled back the money last November during a review of port finances hit hard by the economic downturn.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, California Air Resources Board, and Environmental Protection Agency said the Marine Air Quality Improvement Plan, approved 5-1 by the Board of Port Commissioners, needs more teeth, as did several local residents and leaders of community groups.

Read more in the SJ Mercury News.

Sometime Soon

Salt Pond Development Plans

A push for thousands of homes on bayland site
Jane Kay, SF Chronicle, May 19, 2009

DMB Associates of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Cargill Salt are expected to submit their plan to build as many as 12,000 houses on Cargill's 1,433-acre bayland property in Redwood City today, touching off a battle over development of one of the largest remaining chunks of restorable wetlands on San Francisco Bay.

The companies plan to design construction below sea level given projections of rising bay waters-up to 16 inches by 2050 and 4.5 feet by 2100. The plan envisions about 700 acres of houses and industrial and commercial development. Roughly 250 acres would be dedicated to parks, including an extension of the Bay Trail and other public access, and 440 acres would be returned to tidal marsh.

The developers hope to get approval from the city, the Bay Conservation Development Commission, and a host of agencies to break ground in 2013. The project would take 25 years to build.

Read the complete article here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/19/BAQC17MN5P.DTL

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 14th is Bike to Work Day

Annual Bike to Work Day in the SF Bay Area is Thursday, May 14th

Bike to Work Day takes place all over Northern California with all nine Bay Area counties participating in the celebration. The event is just one of many taking place in May as part of National Bike Month.

Take the Bike to Work Day pledge to bike at least once to work (or play) during the month of May for your chance to win a new Larkspur Bicycle by Marin Bikes, Novara Commuter Kit from REI, and many other bike-related prizes. Register by May 31st to enter and win.

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition has lots of information and links on their website, including a list and map of Energizer Stations in Alameda County that will provide free beverages, snacks, and good cheer to bicyclists (tip: there will be pancakes at Frank Ogawa Plaza).

San Francisco Energizer Stations are listed here.

Los Angeles County has a cool bike-to-work calculator on their website that estimates how much gas and carbon dioxide emissions you save by choosing to bike instead of drive.

There are no special events listed for Orange County, but don't let that stop you folks down in Newport Beach. The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 11 - 15 and national Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 15. So get your bike out, form a convoy, and start rollin'!

(Hey Newport Beach: Want to generate some bike-to-work momentum in your community? This planning guide can help.)

Science of Sustainability Photo Project

As part of the Year of Science 2009, the EPA is connecting with the public through blogs, podcasts, and demonstrations of the importance of sustainability and science.

May is Sustainability Month, and one of the EPA's activities to promote awareness of sustainability is a photography project and photo group on Flickr.

Join the group, submit a photo, and you might find your image on the EPA's website!

energy alternatives

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oakland Green Building Requirements

Sustainable Oakland:
Mandatory Green Building Ordinance for Private Development

The City of Oakland has green building rules in the form of Ordinance No.12658 C.M.S. This legislation requires that City projects covered under the Ordinance meet a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating. The Oakland City Council, the City Planning Commission, and the Community and Economic Development Agency are considering mandatory Green Building requirements for certain types of private development. Mandatory green building requirements for private development will support one of the City Council's adopted goals to "Develop a Sustainable City", by "maximizing socially and environmentally sustainable growth, including conserving natural resources."

The City continues to seek public input on the Green Building thresholds. A public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board is scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2009, at 6:00 pm in City Hall Hearing Room 1.

Learn more about the proposed thresholds here.