California's challenge: "We have to address land use" to reduce greenhouse gases

California paved the way last year for states to take the lead in tackling rising greenhouse gases when Gov. Schwarzenegger signed AB32, which promises to reduce the state’s greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. Cleaner energy, efficient cars, and green buildings are all part of the equation, but some state leaders question whether they can make much progress given the increase in driving required by sprawling development. “We have to address land use to reach the AB32 targets,” Dan Skopec, undersecretary of the governor’s Environmental Protection Agency told The San Francisco Chronicle May 28.

Along those lines, Attorney General Jerry Brown and the state sued San Bernardino County for failing to account for the impact of increased greenhouse gases in their comprehensive growth plans. According to a June 6 story in the USA Today, they are attempting to set a precedent of holding “cities and counties accountable for greenhouse gas emissions caused by poorly planned suburban sprawl.” Projections are that statewide emissions from automobiles will continue to rise during the next two decades even with cleaner-burning gasoline and more efficient cars, because of population growth and continuing sprawl, according to the Chronicle. Proposed legislation in AB32 would require state regulators to set emissions reduction targets for each metro area, and would restrict transportation funds in regions whose growth plans fail to provide living options centered on public transportation and job centers.