SodaCanyonRoad | Climate Action Plan DEIR
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Climate Action Plan DEIR


Bill Hocker | Jun 16, 2019 on: Climate Action Plan


Update 6/21/19
Video and documents of the 6/19/19 Planning Commission hearing

NV2050 Newsletter 6/19/19: NV2050 comments on hearing (scroll down)
NVR 6/22/19: Napa County hones climate action plan; cities to be asked to join in

Update 6/14/19
Bohemian Geoff Ellsworth LTE 6/16/10: Napa Farm Bureau ignores climate change science

NVR 6/17/19: Climate action plan heads to Napa County's Planning Commission for comments

The County will hold another Planning Commission hearing on the Draft Climate Action Plan on June 19 2019.

Comments on the Plan and its Draft Environmental Impact Report may be made at the hearing or submitted to Planning Director David Morrison or Planner Jason Hade through July 9, 2019.

This NapaVision 2050 newsletter discusses one specific change between the 2018 Draft CAP and the Draft 2019 CAP: the elimination of woodland conservation as a strategy to reduce GHG emissions. It is a contentious deletion given the ferocious focus on oak woodland preservation over the last few years.

That deletion and the DEIR's concentrated reliance on rooftop solar on new industrial buildings as a GHG reducing measure both point to the County's (and humanity's) unwillingness to confront the growth-is-good mentality that has left us with a melting planet. The County's proposed growth-minded solution to the global warming caused by human development seems to be more vineyards and more industrial buildings, i.e. more development.

But the magnitude of the changes necessary to reverse global warming are unlikely to be achieved by pretending that ever expanding economic growth (more visitors and workers and housing and industries) can continue at the current rate with just some tweaks to the power source. As the recent UN report highlighting species extinction noted:
"...a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth."

Napa was a leader in tempering the paradigm of economic growth: In protecting agriculture by zoning out the possibility of urban sprawl in 1968, it created a sustainable economy resulting in a beautiful place to live and a profitable place for a limited number of entrepreneurs. But now, in the boom following the great recession, the growth paradigm has returned with a vengeance. Proposals and approvals for ever more visitors and workers and venues and housing and industry already promise to urbanize the county beyond sustainability. Despite all the new solar collectors on all the new industrial buildings, the GHG's will continue to rise and the planet will continue to cook.

Napa can again be a leader in renouncing the paradigm of mindless economic growth that now threatens our very existence, by stopping once more the urbanization taking place. 50 years ago the county decided to stop the replacement of orchards with housing and to stop the replacement of roads with freeways. Now is the time to stop the replacement of woodlands with vineyards and gravel pits; stop the replacement of vineyards with event centers and solar farms; stop the replacement of wetlands with warehouses and hotels.

In rejecting the unsustainable desire for an economy based on continual growth, by rezoning and denying project approvals to discourage more urban development, Napa can remain a model of sustainable economy and livable environment based on a low impact agricultural product, and do more than its part in protecting a habitable planet. It was done before. It can be done again.

5/31/19
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the County's Climate Action Plan is out. The notice of availability is here

Napa County Climate Action Plan page
Climate Action Plan with redline revisions from last iteration
Climate Action Plan DEIR

A Planning Commission hearing on the DEIR will take place on June 19, 2019 at 9:00am on the 3rd floor of the County Bldg.


The DEIR's conclusion after a couple hundred pages of evaluation:
"Based on review of the other alternatives considered, the County has determined that the Roof-Top Solar for Commercial Properties Alternative would be environmentally superior to the project because it would reduce impacts related to construction and operation of larger-scale GHG reduction measures while still achieving both the primary objective of GHG emissions reductions consistent with SB 32 and all other supporting project objectives."

There is a bit of a disconnect between the DEIR and the redlined CAP. The County is required to propose GHG reductions that will achieve State mandated goals. The CAP proposes a bundle of GHG reducing measures and crunches the numbers to achieve better reductions than required for 2020 and 2030 reduction goals. But it fails significantly to meet 2050 goals. The solution is the environmentally superior alternative proposed in the DEIR: mandated solar systems on new industrial buildings. The systems, on commercial building rooftops (and perhaps some parking lots), will be tied into the MCE (formerly Marin Clean Energy) community aggregator's Deep Green program for 100% renewable energy generation.

As was mentioned in the discussion of solar farming (where Sup. Ramos brought up the industrial solar solution), the State already requires that all new commercial projects to be "solar ready". The step of requiring the actual installation for county approval is a quick fix for the CAP. Whether building developers will see this solution in the same light will become apparent in the DEIR review process. It will be a significant added expense to their projects, but solar energy generation can also be used as a revenue source and would substitute for PG&E power, so the economics may not be too bad. Plus the subsidies, of course.

There is, unfortunately, an underlying assumption with the quick fix that is probably the reason that developers, and perhaps the County, are keen to enact it. Meeting GHG reduction goals provided by the commercial roof-top alternative requires continued construction of major building projects. Like Napa Pipe, the solution to the ills of urban development (the generation of GHG's) are so construed to require more urban development.

I haven't yet found projected reductions in GHG's based on an industrial solar mandate in the DEIR (the empty item BE-11 in the CAP). One wonders how the GHG's saved by a building's solar panels can possibly compensate for the GHG's generated by the construction process, the operating energy, the daily traffic to the new facility, the added employees needing more GHG generating businesses and services and housing. The added buildings and cars and homes may be creating their GHG's more efficiently, but none will produce negative GHG's, so it's hard to see how they will not be adding to rather than subtracting from, the the county's GHG's totals.

[As often happens in these posts, there is probably something I'm missing. I will eventually get it straight.]

I was most interested in the summarily rejected "No Growth/Moratorium Alternative" in the DEIR (excerpted here). The paradoxical argument is made that a building moratorium might impede GHG reduction on existing buildings. Huh? They have made the specious, and conclusion-serving assumption that a moratorium must be an alternative to the CAP rather than an addition to it.

This alternative discusses the two issues that represent the moral failure of the County to address the climate costs of a tourism economy in their CAP. As usual, tourism is the force that dare not speak its name in county politics, and the relation between tourism and GHG's, as with traffic and winery proliferation, is quickly rejected. This alternative alludes to the Sonoma lawsuit that successfully challenged the lack of global GHG consideration in that county's CAP. The discussion of VMT and the GHG costs of an economy based on transporting millions of people from all over the world into the county and then building remotely dispersed venues to entertainment them, to insure maximum VMT while here, is the height of global warming irresponsibility. Tourism is not discussed in the CAP, just as the significant impacts of tourism, apparent to all who live here, are barely discussed in the County General Plan.