In an effort to keep ahead of statewide goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a 1990 level by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, Santa Barbara County is moving forward with the development of a Climate Action Strategy. While there is currently no direct mandate for local governments to participate, the state has encouraged it and the county is hoping to spend money on such a plan today in order to save cash down the road.
County staff is now onto the second part of a climate action plan phase, where they will look at the numbers and data and actually set greenhouse gas reduction goals and choose emission abatement measures to implement. The second phase follows the publishing of a 335-page study that sets the framework to establish these targets. Among other things, the report pointed out area organizations that have made a commitment to reducing their own carbon footprint. Like waste management company MarBorg, for instance, which installed solar panels to offset electricity usage, switched to a fleet that uses compressed natural gas, and has led the way in high recycling and diversion rates. In total, MarBorg has achieved a 19 percent reduction in emissions since 2007. In addition to Tuesday’s progress, at least two local agencies, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments and the Air Pollution Control District, have been working on plans to reduce emissions levels in their respective areas of oversight.
The two North County supervisors who voted against moving forward with the plan, 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, cited money spent by the county so far on climate studies, especially when compared with how much pollution the county contributes to the state’s total. (Lavagnino said it was 1/10 of one percent). The county spent $379,000 in 2009 and 2010, and is expected to spend $111,000 this year and next, a number boosted by grants. “I’m deeply concerned about spending money,” Gray said. “It’s a great goal, but we have many more problems and virtually no control.”