When President Barack Obama braved Washington D.C.’s sweltering heat to deliver a major address on combating climate change, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal was there at the president’s invitation to witness it. Carbajal, who sits on several governmental boards and commissions dealing with air pollution and climate, said he found the speech at Georgetown University “encouraging and exciting,” but he expressed caution as to how the programs outlined would be funded. Carbajal noted that Obama was proposing to enact many of the initiatives via executive order, thus bypassing Congress. But the $8 billion in new initiatives Obama promised, Carbajal added, would require congressional approval. To date, the consensus required does not exist.
Obama outlined new regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions generated from new or existing power plants by half. Likewise, the president proposed doubling the amount of electricity generated by renewable sources in the next seven years. And he called for a major investment in energy-efficient retrofits of existing buildings. After the speech, Carbajal said he was one of three elected officials who met with White House energy officials to discuss their experience dealing with such issues. With marine tankers contributing a major amount of air pollution in Santa Barbara County, Carbajal said he objected to changes proposed by the International Maritime Organization that would delay the adoption of cleaner technologies on new — not existing — tankers by six years.
And he said he pushed for changes in Department of Energy regulations that would enable property owners to finance energy-efficient remodels by paying off their loans in the form of higher property taxes. When the Board of Supervisors sought to adopt such an approach a few years ago, it found the way blocked by regulatory inconsistencies between the California Department of Finance and the federal Department of Energy.