Smoggy Status Quo

County Governments Agree to Six Percent Increase in Greenhouse Gases

While Santa Barbara County is one of only two state counties expecting to increase its greenhouse gas emissions in the next 20 years, the majority of the board of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) — comprised of the county’s five supervisors along with one representative from each of the county’s eight cities and in charge of transportation issues within the county — decided the status quo was adequate for now. The county is looking at a 6-percent increase by 2020 and 4 percent by 2035.

The discussion stems from a 2008 State Senate bill signed by the governor which is supposed to help California meet greenhouse gas emission goals set forth in the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as Assembly Bill 32. By 2020, California aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 recorded levels — a 30-percent reduction from present levels. Because more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California comes from cars and light trucks, the major focus is on reducing vehicle-miles traveled. In Santa Barbara County, 16.8 pounds of carbon dioxide per capita is emitted every day, according to SBCAG estimates. More than 30,000 people travel 50-plus miles a day in the county, according to the Air Pollution Control District.

While the majority of the board’s South County members were in favor of more stringent goals — falling in line with speakers from several environmental groups who spoke — the votes weren’t there, with Carpinteria City Councilmember Joe Armendariz siding with North County representatives to keep the goal where it was. South County reps were recommending that SBCAG request the California Air Resources Board set an 8-percent target reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions. There is no punishment for not meeting the targets.

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