Giving Voice: Advisory Committee Says Public Should Play Role in SB 375 Target Setting

On Wednesday, the Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC) released its final recommendations for implementation of SB 375, California’s new law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through smarter land use and transportation decisions.
We’re happy to report that many of our top priorities were incorporated into the RTAC document during the last few weeks of deliberation.
We’re most excited to see the committee elevate the role of the public in the SB 375 target-setting process. Under the law, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) must set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 18 regions of the state. The RTAC made the right call by recommending public participation at key junctures in this process.
We’re also glad to see the RTAC recommend that regional governments model and quantify the wide array of benefits that come from climate-friendly development, benefits such as public health improvements, preservation of farmland, and avoided infrastructure costs. There’s also an important discussion of social equity, transit funding, and affordable housing. Providing this big picture perspective will be essential for broadening public participation and advancing environmental justice in SB 375 implementation.

Unfortunately, the report also opens the door to some dangerous backsliding. It encourages CARB to consider whether large regions of the state should be allowed to disregard their travel models and instead rely entirely on achievement of Best Management Practices to demonstrate compliance with their greenhouse gas targets. Travel models aren’t perfect but faced with the urgency of climate change we should be racing to improve them rather than ignoring them.

CARB will consider the RTAC’s recommendations at its November 19th meeting and will be proposing draft greenhouse gas targets by June, 2010.