Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, TransportationTags ,

Op-Ed: Santa Rosa needs protected bike lanes

Adrian Covert & Alexa Forrester, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

What if we told you there was a cheap and easy way to reduce traffic in Santa Rosa by as much as 25%?

It’s called Class IV protected bike lanes.

Every day, about a quarter of all car trips in Santa Rosa are less than 2 miles. That’s about a 10-minute bike ride for the average adult, comparable to the amount of time it would take to drive that same distance and park. For these small trips, biking is a time-competitive and virtually free alternative to cars that also strengthens physical fitness and generally creates good community vibes (join the Taco Tuesday Ride from Humboldt Park to Mitote Food Park if you don’t believe us). Bikes are also quiet, clean and require little public space.

Yet just 1.6% of all trips in Santa Rosa are made by bike. Bikes are used about six times less often in Santa Rosa than in San Luis Obispo, and 16 times less often than in Davis. Despite its comparatively miserable weather, Amsterdam residents are 24 times more likely to bike to their destination than Santa Rosa residents.

This is an infrastructure problem. Santa Rosa’s bike lanes are almost entirely made up of Class II bikeways — painted lines along the shoulder of a road. Riding mere feet away from increasingly distracted drivers behind the wheels of increasingly large vehicles is neither safe nor pleasant. Since 2012, nearly 500 cyclists have been injured by cars in Santa Rosa, including two who were killed. Small wonder cycling in the city is limited to the most fearless riders.

Santa Rosa could have as many as 24,000 new homes by 2050. To avoid the city becoming choked with car traffic, we must provide safe biking and scooting infrastructure for those who want that option, especially for short trips.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/opinion/close-to-home-santa-rosa-needs-protected-bike-lanes/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , , ,

This 100% solar community endured Hurricane Ian with no loss of power and minimal damage

Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Anthony Grande moved away from Fort Myers three years ago in large part because of the hurricane risk. He has lived in southwest Florida for nearly 19 years, had experienced Hurricanes Charley in 2004 and Irma in 2017 and saw what stronger storms could do to the coast.

Grande told CNN he wanted to find a new home where developers prioritized climate resiliency in a state that is increasingly vulnerable to record-breaking storm surge, catastrophic wind and historic rainfall.

What he found was Babcock Ranch — only 12 miles northeast of Fort Myers, yet seemingly light years away.

Babcock Ranch calls itself “America’s first solar-powered town.” Its nearby solar array — made up of 700,000 individual panels — generates more electricity than the 2,000-home neighborhood uses, in a state where most electricity is generated by burning natural gas, a planet-warming fossil fuel.

The streets in this meticulously planned neighborhood were designed to flood so houses don’t. Native landscaping along roads helps control storm water. Power and internet lines are buried to avoid wind damage. This is all in addition to being built to Florida’s robust building codes.

Read more at https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/02/us/solar-babcock-ranch-florida-hurricane-ian-climate/index.html

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Santa Rosa acquires new electric transit buses, readying first two for service in late 2022

Alana Minkler & Colin Atagi, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Two electric buses arrived in Santa Rosa on Wednesday morning and two more are on the way as the city is poised to put them into service later this year — the start of a bigger shift to eliminate carbon emissions tied to the CityBus fleet.

The switch to electrical buses is part of the city’s initiative to make public transportation fully zero-emission by 2030 and drastically lower carbon emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for 60% of climate warming gases in the county.

The city’s all-electric buses, which cost $1.2 million each, join three currently in the county fleet, and are part of the broader plan by transit and fleet managers eyeing a transition away from fossil fuel vehicles over the coming years.

Sonoma County Transit introduced its first electric bus in 2018 and plans to add three more by the end of this year, with up to 19 in service by mid-2024, said Sonoma County Transit Systems Manager Bryan Albee said.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/santa-rosa-acquires-new-electric-transit-buses-readying-first-two-for-serv/

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Hwy. 37 could be under water by 2050. Here’s how Caltrans plans to keep traffic flowing

Colin Atagi, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

The favored plan also proposes the route have a 60 mph speed limit, as well as two lanes in each direction with bicycle and pedestrian paths. The plan is in its early stages and officials haven’t identified a cost or funding source.

Caltrans, in order to keep traffic flowing decades from now, intends to build an elevated road along Highway 37 to combat rising water levels, which are expected to eventually inundate the North Bay arterial.

The proposed project essentially stretches across the existing route along San Pablo Bay and through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

It preserves travel patterns, allows landward marsh migration and is resilient to sea level rises, officials said in explaining its benefits.

Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/news/hwy-37-could-be-under-water-by-2050-heres-how-caltrans-plans-to-keep-tra/

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California ends gas line subsidies as it eyes an electric future

Zoe Woodcroft, EARTHJUSTICE

The California Public Utilities Commission voted today to end gas line allowances for new homes in a shift to climate-friendly construction

California made waves today as the first state in the country to end gas line extension allowances, a program that spends millions every year subsidizing fossil gas lines for new homes and buildings, as the state shifts to all-electric new construction. California is likely at the forefront of a trend, with states like Washington, Oregon, and New York all revisiting their gas line subsidies. The unanimous vote today by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is estimated to save California ratepayers over $160 million every year that was being funneled into incentivizing expansion of the fossil gas distribution system in California.

“The vote today in California is yet another palpable sign that the future is electric for homes and buildings,” said Matt Vespa, senior attorney on Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign. “All-electric homes are not only cheaper to build, but they also save California ratepayers money by avoiding the harmful expansion of the gas distribution system — and their clean air and climate benefits are simply priceless. California’s vote today to end gas line subsidies should spur a trend in other states looking into the obvious benefits of all-electric housing.”

Read more at https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2022/california-ends-gas-line-subsidies-as-it-eyes-an-electric-future

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Santa Rosa, largest US city to ban new gas stations

Paulina Pineda, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa became the largest city in the nation to ban new gas stations on Tuesday, joining other cities in Sonoma County that have led a coordinated effort to combat climate impacts of fossil fuel.

In the latest volley of a locally grown movement that supporters hope will catch on across the nation, the City Council voted 6-0 to ban construction of gas stations and expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure at existing gas stations within city limits.

The new rules will not close gas stations though it will put some limits on current operators.

Santa Rosa has 44 operating gas stations and there are two proposed stations under review at Rincon Road and North Wright Road. Gas stations that submit completed applications before the ban goes into effect in October will be considered by staff.

With Tuesday’s vote, more than half of Sonoma County residents will live in a jurisdiction that has banned gas stations. Supporters point to elected officials in Los Angeles and mid-state New York who are looking at similar ordinances.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/santa-rosa-approves-ban-on-new-gas-stations/

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Sea level rise threatens Highway 37; leaders prepare billion dollar plan to stop it

Chase Hunter, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Highway 37 serves as a key artery of Bay Area traffic from Marin County to Vallejo, but its low-lying place in former wetlands makes it susceptible to flooding and sea level rise over coming decades.

Leaders in transportation will need to address two issues at once to ensure the long-term sustainability of the key corridor: the creation of flood-resistant, sea-level impervious infrastructure and the environmental restoration of the wetlands.

“You can’t do the environmental restoration and address sea level rise without doing the transportation project. And you can’t do the transportation improvement projects without addressing sea level rise,” said Suzanne Smith, the executive director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.

Read more at https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/article/article/sea-level-rise-threatens-highway-37-leaders-prepare-billion-dollar-plan-to/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags ,

County of Sonoma to take inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for all county operations

Press Release, COUNTY OF SONOMA

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today authorized the creation of an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from all county government facilities and operations. The inventory will be used as a baseline to help the county move toward its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, as outlined in the county’s Five-Year Strategic Plan for Climate Action and Resiliency.

Following a competitive bid process, the board today approved the selection of Oakland-based Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc. to perform the greenhouse gas audit with a contract amount of $142,330.

“This board has made the climate crisis a top priority by joining cities, counties, and countries around the world in declaring a climate emergency and making a $10 million commitment to action on adaptation and resiliency strategies,” said James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are already making progress on carbon accounting of internal operations, but we have ambitious goals and more work to do. A baseline understanding of our current impact is essential to meeting the 2030 targets with accuracy and efficiency.”

The Board of Supervisors previously allocated $500,000 as part of Strategic Plan funding to conduct both an internal municipal greenhouse gas emissions inventory and a study evaluating the potential of carbon sequestration. The carbon sequestration study will be pursued at a later date.

Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc. works with public, corporate, nonprofit, and tribal clients on strategic planning, analysis, and management of projects focused on climate change mitigation and resilience, energy efficiency and renewable energy, recycling and materials management, and resource conservation.

Under the terms of the contract, Cascadia will prepare the emissions inventory using the Local Government Operations Protocol for the Quantification and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories, which is based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, considered the world’s most widely used corporate accounting and reporting standard for greenhouse gas emissions.
Continue reading “County of Sonoma to take inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for all county operations”

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As federal climate-fighting tools are taken away, cities and states step up

Maggie Astor, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Across the country, local governments are accelerating their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in some cases bridging partisan divides. Their role will become increasingly important.

Legislators in Colorado, historically a major coal state, have passed more than 50 climate-related laws since 2019. The liquor store in the farming town of Morris, Minn., cools its beer with solar power. Voters in Athens, Ohio, imposed a carbon fee on themselves. Citizens in Fairfax County, Va., teamed up for a year and a half to produce a 214-page climate action plan.

Across the country, communities and states are accelerating their efforts to fight climate change as action stalls on the national level. This week, the Supreme Court curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, one of the biggest sources of planet-warming pollution — the latest example of how the Biden administration’s climate tools are getting chipped away.

During the Trump administration, which aggressively weakened environmental and climate protections, local efforts gained importance. Now, experts say, local action is even more critical for the United States — which is second only to China in emissions — to have a chance at helping the world avert the worst effects of global warming.

Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/climate/climate-policies-cities-states-local.html

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Utilities, solar industry square off as California reopens record in net energy metering process

Kavya Balaraman, UTILITY DIVE

California utilities and solar advocates presented widely different views on the approach the state should take to change its net energy metering framework in comments filed with the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday.

The parties’ comments came in response to a May ruling from a CPUC administrative law judge, which asked them to weigh in on multiple issues, including how to transition from one net energy metering tariff to the other and how to collect public purpose charges under the new framework.

The ruling essentially reopened the record in the commission’s net energy metering proceeding, so that regulators can accept new information to evaluate the best course of action, according to Seth Hilton, partner at Stoel Rives. After this, “we’re likely to see a revised proposed decision come out which will respond to the proposed changes in the comments in some fashion — either adopt those changes, or [it] won’t,” he said.

Read more at https://www.utilitydive.com/news/utility-industry-california-commission-solar-net-metering/625522/?utm_id=59107&sfmc_id=3422102