San Bernardino Global Warming Plan Settles California Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, California, August 21, 2007 (ENS) - A unique greenhouse gas reduction plan that will identify sources of emissions in San Bernardino County and set feasible reduction targets to combat global warming was agreed upon today to settle a lawsuit brought against the county by the state of California.

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the "landmark settlement" of the state’s global warming lawsuit at a news conference at the his office in downtown Los Angeles.

"San Bernardino now sets the pace for how local government can adopt powerful measures to combat oil dependency and climate disruption," Brown said. "This landmark agreement establishes one of the first greenhouse gas reduction plans in California. It is a model that I encourage other cities and counties to adopt."

Approved today by the County Board of Supervisors, today’s settlement resolves a lawsuit, filed by the attorney general in April, contesting the adequacy of San Bernardino’s general plan under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Brown argued that the plan, a blueprint for the physical development of land until year 2030, did not adequately analyze the effects of development on global warming nor did it identify ways to mitigate the warming that would be caused by development.

One of the fastest growing counties in California, San Bernardino currently generates about 10 trips per household per day, and over 84 percent of the work trips are made by car. Burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, generates greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.

Under today’s agreement, the county will embark upon a 30 month public process aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions attributable to land use decisions and county government operations.

Under the newly approved Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, the county must:

Commenting on the agreement, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Gary Ovitt said, "Only a handful of California counties and cities have formally addressed climate change issues, and San Bernardino County will lead the way in the implementation of strategies and steps to enhance our future and serve as a model for others."

Under California law, the state is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and then reducing 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Currently, California generates about 500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, significantly above 1990 levels. To achieve the 2020 target, California must reduce current emissions by at least 25 percent.

"Local government action to combat global warming is absolutely essential to meet the goals which Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature set forth in AB 32," Brown said, referring to the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

To date, the Attorney General has submitted formal comments, under the California Environmental Quality Act, to San Bernardino, San Diego, Sacramento, Orange County, Merced, Kern, Fresno, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Richmond, and San Jose.

On their own, the following communities in California are already initiating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Marin, Palo Alto, Chula Vista, Modesto and Healdsburg.

Brown said that to mitigate their contributions to global warming, local governments can take the following actions:

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