While the City of Sierra Madre struggles with the question of whether or not to make a Commission out of the Green Committee, or simply allow it to term out and go away, the actual reasons for the existence of this entirely unhappy situation might very well have vanished into thin air. Literally.
But before we step forward, we're going to have to step back. All the way back to December 5, 2007. That is when the State of California wrote its now legendary Integrated Energy Policy Report on AB32 (click here), also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act. Read deeply into this crusty cup of unfiltered governmental effluence:
California's vibrant economy is dependent on reliable and affordable supplies of energy. Yet, fossil-based energy produces greenhouse gases that are the primary contributors to climate change. California's challenge, like that of the rest of the developed world, is how to maintain its growth and vitality while decreasing its contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Responding to this challenge, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature placed reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the center of their agendas. Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), mandates that California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
This law, later coupled with its evil twin, SB 375, is now in its enactment phase. Which means that Sacramento, with the assistance of the usual useful local idiots that support whatever they want no matter how destructive, is attempting to force cities such as ours to plan for far higher density development than it has now. Which includes, and for the most specious of reasons, large amounts of the kind of stack and pack mixed-use development that was rejected here by the voters of Sierra Madre in 2007 when they passed Measure V.
But here is a rather amazing piece of news. Apparently the goal of reducing "greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020" has already been achieved. And it was done (to put it into SB 375 terms) without our building a high density transit village in downtown Sierra Madre, or anybody being forced out of their cars and either onto a bus or reduced to just walking. This from The Association Press (click here):
AP Impact: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low - In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas had led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier burning coal.
Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
In a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. Energy emissions make up about 98 percent of the total. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.
While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.
A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast's Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from $7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced. As a result, utilities are relying more than ever on gas-fired generating plants.
So there you go. The call for greenhouse gas reduction to 1990 levels demanded in Arnold's beloved AB 32, the so-called California Global Warming Solutions Act, turned out to be unnecessary after all. It has been achieved 8 years ahead of schedule. And rather than this all being coerced through draconian laws and mass behavioral modification efforts by the government, it was achieved through natural market forces. It came about because new energy drilling technology has made the use of natural gas cheaper than coal.
Which means we don't need an AB 32, or an SB 375 or, for that matter, the Green Committee and its call for transit village style development in downtown Sierra Madre. You can still drive your car and live in a single family home free from having to worry about whether or not you are a climate criminal.
So Josh? Can you please tell us why we still need the Green Committee? Particularly since it looks like we've already achieved its most prominent goals? Including the big one?