SodaCanyonRoad | Climate Action Plan DEIR

Climate Action Plan DEIR

Bill Hocker | May 9, 2019 on: Climate Action Plan

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.