The Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL) program is a network assisting the county and its 19 cities to inform, support and encourage the measurement and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Through education and sharing of best practices we will ensure sustainable, healthy and livable cities.

February 2009

February 2009

Funding

The Stimulus Package: Is Your Community Prepared to Access Stimulus Dollars?

The bill provides $45 billion in funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency and other energy related programs. It also provides almost $20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and efficiency measures. Specifics of the stimulus package include funding for renewable energy, home energy retrofits, electric and more efficient vehicles, along with reduction of diesel emissions. Provides $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to help local governments implement energy and greenhouse gas reduction plans and programs. For specific tax incentives visit: here. Break down of spending can be found here.

Stimulus Proposals Outline

The Ferguson Group LLC (TFG), the largest federal representative of local governments in Washington, DC, has launched a new website to provide local governments information about the federal funding process, including economic stimulus legislation. The new website provides background information about various federal resources available to local governments. For more information, contact dgrenham@tfgnet.com

New Retrofit Funds: National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program

Retrofit funding will soon be available through EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign. $300 million available in funds with an expedited timeline much like the stimulus package. Applications available beginning early March. For more information on the assistance program visit: here

Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Grant

This is a competitive grant program that offers an innovative way for a community to organize and take action to reduce toxic pollution in its local environment. Through CARE, a community creates a partnership that implements solutions to reduce releases of toxic pollutants and minimize people’s exposure to them. By providing financial and technical assistance, EPA helps CARE communities get on the path to a renewed environment. Submit your application by March 16, 2009. To learn more, visit here.

Local City News

Environmental Purchasing Program (EPP) In the News!

Pleasant Hill recently implemented a new EPP and you can too! A step-by-step guide to create your own Environmental Purchasing Program can be found here. See EVENTS below for upcoming EPP learning opportunity!

Local Counties Fighting Climate Change

Marin County created the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership (MCEP) to help the county reduce their Green House Gas Emissions. Currently, they are hiring a Climate Action Director with a $75,000 grant received from Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Sonoma County took on the climate issue through a different approach: a nonprofit group that organizes public meetings, coordinates outreach efforts, and applies for funding.

Build It Green

Build it Green is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy, energy- and resource-efficient building practices in California. As part of their goal to accelerate the adoption of these practices, they organize four regional Public Agency Councils in CA to help facilitate the adoption of green building ordinances. Build It Green also provides strategic assistance to local governments for developing, promoting, and implementing their green building programs. If you would like to know more about this organization, the next Build It Green Bay Area Public Agency Council (BA-PAC) meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, 2009 from 9:00am-3:00pm in South San Francisco. Please RSVP (PAC-NC@BuildItGreen.org).

Other City News

If Las Vegas can turn out their lights, couldn’t CCC?

On March 28, Las Vegas will participate in a global movement known as “Earth Hour,” all in an effort to raise awareness regarding climate change and global warming. Earth Hour, started several years ago in Australia, has grown into a global event. This year on March 28 at 8:30 pm, when the lights go out for an entire hour, Las Vegas will lead more than 240 cities from 70 different countries. To participate, just simply turn off all of your lights on March 28, 2009, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm, whatever your time zone is. To register yourself, organization, or city please visit here.

Southern cities wrangle for Energy Efficiency to win a half-million dollar reward

The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance created a contest for the municipalities in the 11 southeastern states to design the best energy efficiency program in their city or country. The contest asks local governments to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce electricity use by between 20 percent and 40 percent over a period of up to seven years. The program aims to get a slow-adapting region to become more efficient, to build partnerships with utilities for driving efficiency programs, to reduce power use, and to educate the public. here

CitiesGoGreen: Saving Money and Creating Jobs

CitiesGoGreen is a free online subscription that you can receive via email on a monthly basis. This months issue features articles on local governments saving money through installation of solar energy as well as a look at an energy efficiency program that pays for itself, saves homeowners money and creates more jobs! here

Legislation

Contra Costa County has completed its Municipal Climate Action Plan!

In conjunction with the Plan, the County has also developed a Municipal GHG Reduction Toolkit for use by other local governments interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their municipal facilities and operations. This Toolkit is available online at here It contains information on funding resources, editable versions of CCC’s plan and more!

EPA to hold hearing on CA waiver

The EPA announced that it will hold a hearing and will take public comment on a possible reversal of the agency’s 2007 decision to deny California a waiver to implement its own greenhouse gas emissions limits for vehicles. Days after his inauguration, President Obama directed EPA to reconsider the waiver. CA standards have been adopted by 13 other states and Washington, D.C. CA and other states have sued EPA in federal appeals court over the decision, and EPA defended the decision before the court in the closing days of the Bush administration.

Impacts

Are we ready for the costs of climate change and the affects on our delta region?

Vietnam is getting ready. They will spend $115 million to prepare for global warming’s impact on its long coastline and low-lying river deltas. Authorities will use the money to create plans to protect Vietnam’s economy from potential environmental damage. The World Bank has predicted that 10.8 percent of Vietnam’s 86 million people could be displaced if global warming causes sea levels to rise by just 3 feet (1 meter). Rising sea levels, more intense typhoons, higher temperatures and increased flooding and drought unleashed by global warming are among the climate change threats to the nation.

Map Shows Human Toll of Climate Change

The Center for American Progress has just created a new interactive map on the human toll of climate change. This map provides scientific information on a variety of climate change threats, compiled from multiple sources, and plots this information geographically to show areas of concern. Contributions of scientific research to the database are invited. here

Climate Change: an opportunity to stop invasive plants?

Non-native plants across the West cause damage to farms and ranches, alter the flow of water and function of ecosystems, provide fuels for fast-burning wildfires, and force government agencies to spend millions of dollars in response. According to a new Princeton University study, a warming climate will allow more welcoming conditions for invasive plants to spread quickly and crowd out native species in some locations. In other locations, invasives may retreat from millions of acres in the West — at least briefly — and offer an opportunity for land managers to re-establish native plants.

Economics

Solar is good for the Economy

SolFocus Inc., a CA developer of concentrated solar power systems, raised $47.5 million. They are exploring Reflective optics which concentrate the sunlight 500 times onto the photovoltaic cells. here

Californians double solar energy use in 2008

CA Public Utilities Commission report on the California Solar Initiative, showed that in 2008, Californians installed twice as many megawatts of solar power than in 2007. Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “I’m encouraged to see that even in these difficult financial times we are breaking solar installation records and spurring private investment in solar projects. This program is helping to make solar power possible for hundreds of thousands of Californians-saving people money on their electricity bills while helping us meet our long-term renewable energy and climate change goals.” here.

Auto Industry Leaders Say Gas Prices Have More Impact Than Fuel Economy Standards

A group of automobile executives claim that consumers will buy fuel-efficient vehicles only if the price of fuel goes up. An executive vice president of Audi America, worries that companies investing billions of dollars in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles might not sell as many if the price of fuel remains low. Environmentalists desire to add a gas tax which would raise the price while providing funding for alternative fuel research. Much of the technology is currently available to make more efficient vehicles. Meanwhile some auto executives believe that cap-and-trade system would bring the make the true price of carbon apparent and would encourage consumer investment in more efficient vehicles while others support a carbon tax.

Upcoming Events

DO NOT MISS THIS!! Green California Summit & Exposition

March 16-18, Sacramento. Anyone interested in green building should not miss the Green California Summit and Exposition. Join with state and local government officials to discover ways to save money and preserve the environment – and learn about regulations that are changing the industry. For more information visit here or call 626-577-5700.

The 6th Annual Water Conservation Showcase

March 24, 2009, San Francisco. Current issues regarding current drought conditions in CA and water’s significant energy use for heating, cooling, pumping and treatment. Reducing use and reusing urban water can increase our supply while producing significant electricity and natural gas savings. Recent research, new policies and technology, and case studies will be presented. No pre-registering for attendees required this year. Expedite your entry to the event by arriving with your business card in hand. For more info: go here

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Conference

March 18, 2009, Oakland. For just $30. Are you working to shrink your carbon footprint, avoid the use of toxic chemicals, and reduce waste? Learn how Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) can help public agencies meet these goals and save taxpayer dollars. Local government leaders and EPP experts will discuss the proven benefits and provide practical tips for setting up programs. Register online athere For additional information, contact Ceil Scandone, ABAG Senior Regional Planner (510-464-7961 or ceils@abag.ca.gov). Sponsored by Association of Bay Area Governments and StopWaste.Org in partnership with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

East Bay City Planning Panel

March 25th, Walnut Creek. Registration is free, but space is extremely limited. The U.S. Green Building Council-Northern CA Chapter (USGBC-NCC) will hold a panel discussion moderated by Mike Consol (Associate Publisher, SF Business Times,) featuring representatives from the Planning Departments of the cities of Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Livermore and Dublin. Panelists will discuss green building and sustainability strategies being undertaken by their respective municipalities. here

Other

New “Bring ENERGY STAR Challenge to Your Community”

Governments are leading by example in their own buildings, while also engaging their communities to meet climate protection goals. Over 270 local governments have signed on as ENERGY STAR Challenge participants and the EPA has created a new Website to learn about employing ENERGY STAR tools along with kick-off invitations, meeting agendas, presentations, and local recognition ideas are available. To learn more, visit here and click on “Bring the ENERGY STAR Challenge to Your Community.”

Does your city have a Tree Planting Program?

Consider an ordinance to require 4 to 1 replacement. Trees capture a fifth of human-caused carbon emissions. Of the 32 billion tons of CO2 generated by humans each year, 17 billion tons of it is reabsorbed by the environment, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “The case for forest protection has never been stronger.” Climate advocates are hoping the research will pressure decision makers to make stronger commitments to save forests and trees and to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Tree City USA is an organization which can provide direction, assistance, attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs. Use caution when planting in your community, use only native CA species!