Articles Posted in State and Local Plans

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The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose California signed on to the Bay Area Climate Change Collaborative last week. The Collaborative sets specific goals for the member communities.

Included among the goals are reducing reliance on fossil fuels and creating “green” jobs. In addition, the intent is to bring other communities in the area within the Compact in order to move toward more sustainable energy and work collaboratively in combating the impacts of fossil fuels.

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A New York City panel created by Mayor Bloomberg issued a report predicting significant increases in temperature and sea level in and around New York City over the next 70 years. The report predicts sea level rise of up to two feet and mean annual temperature increases of up to 7.5 degrees.

In a press release summarizing the findings it was noted: “[t]he report also projects that extreme events – such as heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding – are likely to become more frequent and more intense. In contrast, cold day events, where the temperature drops below freezing, will decrease in frequency.”

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Municipalities in the lower Hudson Valley are joining a small but growing trend in trying to combat global warming by requiring that new building projects and some renovations receive LEED, green building certification.

Earlier this week the County Executive of Rockland County signed a local law which requires that for building projects owned or operated by the County, which cost in excess of one million dollars, there be a “good faith effort” to receive the LEED silver certification. The city of Yonkers is now considering a local law that would require any building receiving a zone change, variance, subsidy or tax break to obtain LEED silver certification. The law is proposed for major renovations or construction of at least 4,000 square feet, with less stringent standard applying to smaller projects.

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Earlier this year the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a “Climate Change Program Assessment and Action Plan“. The DEP provides management of the drinking water, drainage and waste water for the City of New York. The DEP describes the Plan in a report which “summarizes this substantial process of analysis and action and outlines a comprehensive adaptation strategy for DEP as it prepares for a warmer and more volatile future.”

The report notes an expected increase in average annual temperature in New York City and its watershed area of 7.5% to 10% and an increase in sea level of 15.7 to 17.7 inches by the 2080s with increased frequency of extreme weather events. The Plan addresses action to be taken to protect the City’s drinking water and waste water systems. In addition, to various activities to monitor and prepare for the effects of storms and sea level changes the Plan proposes certain proactive activities. The DEP will be leading the City’s actions to reduce the production of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by the City government with an announced goal of a reduction to 30% below 2006 emission levels by 2017.

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One of the interesting aspects of the movement to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the many layers of government that are getting involved in how to curb global warming and confront the problems of climate change. In October, 2008 Sonoma County California issued its Community Climate Action Plan. The detailed and ambitious plan notes: “(e)very historic change is preceded by a massive collection of individual actions. Because we cannot foresee how change will occur, each action is critical.”

The multi-faceted plan seeks to achieve the previously announced goal of the county and all of the nine cities in the county to reduce GHG emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015. The four categories of action include: (1) investment in energy and water efficiency to reduce demand, (2) smart transit and land use by shifting to electric vehicles, walking and bicycling from fossil fuel vehicles, (3) invest in renewable energy resources and jobs and (4) protect forests and farmland and convert waste into energy in order to “conserve and capture.”

Some of the details of the plan demonstrate the need for an extraordinary level of legislative and financial commitment, which if successful may serve as a model for many communities. Among the proposals are to retrofit 80 percent of the buildings in the county to make them more energy efficient, strengthening land use regulations to encourage transit oriented mixed use development and creating incentives for small scale solar, wind and hydro power installations.

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