On Monday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its staff recommendations for emission reduction targets mandated by SB 375 (Steinberg). The main goal of SB 375, or the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the reduction of urban sprawl and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) at the local and regional level. SB 375 works in accordance with AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, to achieve effective statewide climate change policy.
The recommendations released by CARB were completed with the help of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) throughout the state. The MPOs with the most influence are those located in areas with the majority of VMT such as the Bay Area, Southern California, San Diego and Sacramento. CARB has estimated that by 2020, these regions should reduce emissions per capita by about 7-8% based on 2005 levels and by 13-16% by 2035. Other regions such as the San Joaquin Valley were given a goal of a 5% reduction by 2020, and a 10% reduction by 2035 while smaller regions (accounting for 5% or less of VMT) were given more leeway in terms of reduction goals.
Since the draft release back in June, several public workshops have been held in order to discuss the proposed reduction targets. Many environmental groups have criticized the targets since SB 375 calls for a real reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while the “per capita reductions” being recommended do not guarantee an overall and absolute reduction in emissions. CARB has until September 23rd to incorporate public comments and continue working with MPOs before releasing the final targets. SB 375 is a crucial piece of legislation that can significantly increase the likelihood that AB 32 emission reduction goals are achieved.