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Climate Action Plan Concerns

On September 20, 2022 the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted to not adopt the Climate Action Plan (CAP) as proposed. Instead, the board decided to continue to research the topic and meet with staff to go over specific questions and concerns we have with instructions to bring it back to the board later. Here’s a summary of some my concerns:

  • 1. The State of California has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and to achieve an 80% reduction of GHGs below 1990 levels by 2050. The problem is that by 2019, emissions only dropped by 2% in the 19 years since 1990. How are we going to reduce emissions by 38% in the 7 years between now and 2030? What is even more concerning is that the CAP acknowledges there is a “Local Emissions Gap” of about 23.4% after state mandated 14.4% reductions by 2030. (See pages 2-9 and 2-10 in the CAP https://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1332/Climate-Action-Plan ). The math does not add up. I don’t see how we are going to get to 40% reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

 

  • 2. The State of California claims to be a leader in green energy. That may be, but as of 2020, only 13.7% of energy consumed in California came from renewables, such as solar, wind and biomass, and excluding hydro (https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=CA#tabs-1 ). To achieve the targets, that means the share of renewables needs to increase to about 33% by 2030 and about 70% by 2050. I just don’t see this happening. If the Governor or Government has a plan without completely altering our way of life and restricting our freedoms, please share!

 

  • 3. Many folks in the community are concerned about being able to utilize their fireplaces, drive off-road vehicles, or being required to ride bikes for transportation in the mountains and snow. For reasons noted above, I think these are small potatoes compared to what would be needed to meet the emission standards.

 

  • 4. While the state points its finger towards the counties to reduce emissions, they ignore the greatest emission of all: Wildfires. One mega-fire puts off more C02 emissions than all the other emitters the state regulates, including cars (https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/off-the-chart-co2-from-california-fires-dwarf-states-fossil-fuel-emissions/ ). In 2020, Brian Dahle (who is running for Governor) proposed SB495 which sought to require the California Air Resources Board to count emissions from wildfires into its pollution scoping plan https://briandahle.com/climate/. The legislature voted down this bill. Meanwhile, Governor Newsom has stated several times that we need to learn to live with wildfires. The State, as well as the county in the current CAP draft, have decided not to count fire emissions but say they might “someday”. I call BS.

 

  • 5. Wildfire and water were identified as being the greatest concerns of residents during community outreach for the CAP. Yet relatively few wildfire and water items were given much attention in the prioritization matrix.

I am concerned this CAP could be weaponized at a future date (Governor Newsom has signed over 40 bills into law in 2022 alone related to climate change). Unlike the current U.S. Congress who votes on bills before reading them, I have read the CAP and have concerns. I will continue to address these and others concerns in order to meet the General plan requirement to have a CAP while focusing on what is realistic for our community, and which will garner broad support.

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