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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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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/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, TransportationTags , ,

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/

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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

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California vineyard laborers wanted wildfire safety. Then came a shadowy counter-movement

Alleen Brown, THE GUARDIAN


As harvest season becomes riskier, workers are pressing for safer conditions including disaster insurance and hazard pay

But in recent months, a slick website has appeared under the name Sonoma Wine Industry for Safe Employees, or Sonoma Wise, featuring counterpoints to demands from North Bay Jobs with Justice.

When Margarita García, a 39-year-old mother from Oaxaca, Mexico, picks wine grapes during a wildfire, the sky is red and thick with smoke. Ash falls on her face, irritating her throat and eyes. The hot, fast work makes N-95 masks too suffocating, so she and her colleagues opt for bandanas.

In this part of northern California, the grape harvesting season has been transformed by fire. Sonoma county is known internationally for its pinot noir and – increasingly – for intense wildfire seasons made worse by the climate crisis. That has created new economic threats for both grape growers, who can lose an entire season’s harvest in a matter of hours, and for workers, who must operate in increasingly dangerous conditions without replacement income if work is called off.

Now, vineyard laborers like García are pressing officials to enact stronger worker protections during wildfire seasons. They want hazard pay, disaster insurance and safety trainings translated in Indigenous languages – García’s first language is Mixteco. They are also pushing for community safety observers to be allowed to monitor working conditions in evacuation zones and for clean water and bathrooms, even when the ash is falling.

It’s an example of a type of climate-driven labor organizing that is growing across the US, as workers face new climate hazards, such as exposure to extreme heat and hurricane disaster zones littered with dangerous materials.

In turn, a surprising counter-movement has arisen – one that has the veneer of being worker-led, but is driven by the wine industry itself.

Labor organizers say it’s a familiar tactic – one that’s long been used by powerful industries to curtail movements for worker’s rights.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/11/california-vineyard-laborers-wildfire-safety

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STB rejects North Coast Railroad Co.’s offer to take over rail line on Eel River

Sonia Waraich, FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE-NEWS

Federal regulators have decided to turn down a late application from a shadowy corporation seeking to take over the 175 miles of rail line stretching from Willits to Eureka, which may have submitted a fraudulent bank statement with its filing earlier this month.

“(North Coast Railroad Company’s) notice of intent will be rejected,” the Surface Transportation Board’s decision states. “NCRCo has not articulated a sufficient reason why its notice could not have been filed by the May 31 deadline, especially given that NCRCo has been an active participant in this proceeding and has noted, in previous filings, its intent to file an (offer of financial assistance).”

North Coast Railroad Company’s proposal to resume service along the rail line would have blocked the ability of the Great Redwood Trail Agency, formerly the North Coast Railroad Authority, to convert the line, which has been out of service for 20 years, into a trail. Part of the process of doing so included getting the OK from the STB to railbank the line, that is to preserve the rail line’s right of way by using it as a trail until conditions for rail service improve.

The North Coast Railroad submitted a poorly redacted filing with the federal STB almost two weeks ago that shows on any given day between March 31 and April 21, its balance with the Self-Help Credit Union fluctuated from less than $100 to a high of $3,269.96. That’s a lot less than $15.7 million beginning and ending balance at the top of the statement.

Read more at https://www.advocate-news.com/2022/06/10/north-coast-railroad-co-s-stb-filing-includes-potentially-fraudulent-bank-statement/

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Sonoma Clean Power executes power purchase agreement with Luminia for 11.6 MW solar plus 8 MW energy storage project

BUSINESS WIRE

Project to reliably alleviate grid constraints and deliver clean, renewable energy to residents

SAN DIEGO & SANTA ROSA: Luminia and Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) announced today the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the development of an 11.6 MW AC solar plus 32 MWh battery storage project in Sonoma, California. Construction of the 75-acre project is expected in the second half of 2023 in southern Sonoma County, tying into a nearby electrical substation.

“Deploying reliable solar and storage projects with community choice aggregators like Sonoma Clean Power reinforces renewable energy as the new standard in our daily energy lives,” said Dale A. Vander Woude, chief investment officer of Luminia. “We formed an excellent team with Kenwood Investments to provide Sonoma Clean Power with a solution for its resource adequacy demand, which is what brought this important project to fruition in Sonoma County.”

In addition to the PPA, Luminia and Kenwood Investments, LLC, are managing the late-stage development of the project. Once completed, SCP will dispatch the 100 percent renewable, locally generated electricity to its EverGreen premium service customers throughout Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The 11.6 MW AC solar PV system also includes 32 MWh of lithium-ion battery storage that can distribute stored solar power across the grid during peak evening hours.

Read more at https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220606005234/en/

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Climate controversy: California’s plan for handling crisis is flawed, advisors say

Nadia Lopez, CALMATTERS

California’s climate change plan fails to provide substantial evidence that capturing carbon will meet ambitious greenhouse gas goals, critics say. The plan “does California a disservice,” one state advisor said.

As California races to prevent the irreversible effects of climate change, some experts are questioning key policies that the state is counting on to meet its ambitious goals and accusing state officials of failing to provide substantial details to back up its claims.

The California Air Resources Board’s proposal, called a scoping plan, outlines policies that would transition the economy away from fossil fuels. The purpose of the plan is to fulfill state mandates to reduce planet-warming emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

In this year’s highly-anticipated climate policy blueprint, some critics say the state agency has not been transparent on how it plans to achieve its goals. The process has left legislators and others at the forefront of the climate discussion confused over the air board staff’s projections.

“The draft scoping plan does California a disservice,” said Danny Cullenward, an economist and vice chair of the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee, a group of five experts appointed by the governor and top legislators to assess the effectiveness of the state’s landmark cap and trade program. “It focuses on long-term goals at the expense of near-term action.”

At two recent state committee meetings, environmentalists, academics and climate policy experts who serve on state advisory panels voiced concerns over California’s approach to tackling the climate crisis. They called the plan incomplete, ambiguous and confusing.

Read more at https://calmatters.org/environment/2022/06/california-climate-change-plan-flawed/?utm_id=57747&sfmc_id=3422102