Why I voted against county climate plan

By March 18, 2011

I support the adoption of a Yolo County Climate Action Plan. Unincorporated areas should be active participants in greenhouse gas reduction efforts being addressed statewide under the provisions of AB 32.

However, I voted against a motion adopted by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 15, because I believe the plan goals and actions are too modest and deferred for the most part until after 2020. Most importantly, the motion weakened the purpose of the Climate Action Plan and contained language that would require Yolo County staff to advocate for lessening the targets of AB 32 for rural areas.

In January, I stated my concern that the goals for 2020 and 2030 were not ambitious enough. Specifically, the plan calls for greenhouse gas emissions to reach 1990 emission levels by 2020. The 2030 goal calls for GHG levels 27 percent below 1990 levels.

The 2020 goal is disappointingly unambitious; in 2008, the GHG emissions in the areas covered by the Yolo County plan were estimated as 651,740 metric tons, only 6 percent above the 1990 level of 613,651 tons.

In contrast, the city of Davis Climate Action Plan adopted by the City Council in June 2010 was based on reaching the 1990 levels of GHG emission targets by 2010, further reductions of 28 percent by 2020 and continued reductions annually thereafter. As a member of the Davis City Council, I voted to support those far more ambitious goals and a series of specific actions to achieve them.

I supported the proposed plan as recommended by county staff and approved by the Yolo County Planning Commission, largely because it would bring Yolo County into minimal compliance with AB 32 and would begin work by the county on the development of local electric power generation through community choice aggregation, even though that effort is tied to the out-year 2030 goal.

However, the motion before the board altered the language of even the already modest plan to lessen the importance of climate actions in rural areas and committed Yolo County to advocate altering AB 32 targets.

At my request, the board adopted a subsequent motion to accelerate the timeline for consideration of local power generation. Moving forward, I will support the implementation of the Climate Action Plan and creation of local partnerships to advance community choice aggregation.

Don Saylor

Yolo County supervisor, District 2, Davis

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