AG Settles San Bernardino Global Warming Suit

By Published On: August 24, 2007

In a move that helped pave the way for a state budget agreement, San Bernardino County agreed to include global warming concerns in its land use planning August 21. The county agreed to inventory its greenhouse gas emissions and reduce them through land use planning, as well as internal government operations. The county specifically agreed to amend its general plan. In so doing, the state agreed the county would be in compliance with AB 32–the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law. However, the county does not have to impose “any greater restrictions on any individual project … than what would otherwise be required,” according to the settlement. In return, Attorney General Jerry Brown agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against the county (Circuit, Aug. 10, 2007). “San Bernardino now sets the pace for how local government can adopt powerful measures to combat oil dependency and climate disruption,” Brown stated. San Bernardino is the largest county in the state, and is host to fast-growing housing and transportation development. It is also an often intensely hot desert area, with few native water resources, so energy has to be used to pump water to it. Also little attention is paid on a municipal level to placing homes near commercial centers, thus more energy is used in transportation, as well as to cool buildings. The area also has serious air pollution. Republican lawmakers had been insisting a budget deal was contingent on legislation prohibiting Brown from using his legal authority to curb greenhouse gases. A main target of Brown has been local governments that approve development plans and fail to take into account their carbon impacts. The state’s top cop also is involved in a lawsuit against the automobile industry, inherited from his predecessor, which aims to force carmakers to produce cars with lower carbon emissions. Other municipalities pursuing measures to reduce greenhouse gases include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Chula Vista, Modesto, Healdsburg, and Marin County. In related moves, the attorney general called Contra Costa County supervisors on the carpet for not including potential greenhouse gas emissions in their potential plans to allow oil refinery expansion. He also targeted the greenhouse gas effects of the proposed 14,132-home Placer Vineyards project in Placer County.

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