Climate Action Plan


Aug 10, 2018

8/10/18
After more than a year's hiatus, stalled by the climate induced fires of Oct. 2017, a threatened lawsuit and concern over a Sonoma court ruling that Sonoma's CAP did not take into consideration "life cycle" GHG emissions in their CAP, the Napa County Climate Action Plan is back on the agenda with only modest modifications to the January 2017 Plan. More information about the 2017 plan and the interim is in the posts below.

The County's Climate Action plan Page (now gone)
The 2017 Climate Action Plan (with proposed markups)
May 2019 Climate Action Plan

The breakdown of GHG's in the county includes 31% generated by buildings and 26% generated by transport, the 2 largest producers of GHG's. The Plan itemizes the 5 greatest GHG reducers in the plan:
  • power domestic hot water heating with renewables
  • replace carbon-powered with electric-powered ag equipment
  • replace carbon-powered with renewable-powered recreational watercraft
  • preserve woodlands! (a bit ironic that)
  • reduce agricultural burning

The two big areas of GHG production, building energy use and transportation representing 57% of the total, are being attacked at the state level so the efforts that the county is proposing are small indeed: renewable powered residential water heaters and vanpooling. But there are more wholistic approaches to land use that the county could take to limit GHG production than the modest technical tweaks proposed.

Two such areas: 1. stop expanding the tourism industry into the remote areas of the county and concentrate it those areas accessible to public transport. 2. Stop converting the GHG sinks represented by the county's forests, woodlands and shrublands into GHG producing agriculture and estate homes.

The original ag preserve efforts, which remain the soul of the county's self image if not the reality, used zoning and ordinances to limit urban development in the county. That same commitment is again needed in an era where developers don the cloak of the county's agricultural heritage while they build on the open land that remains as a result. The CAP was an opportunity to take on the ever expanding urban development continuing to pump up GHG's (and community concern) in the county. Unfortunately the CAP proposals are just aimed at making that urban development more palatable and probable.

Articles
Aruna Prabhala LTE 6/27/19: Your Turn: Napa County needs bolder plan to fight the climate crisis
NVR 6/22/19: Napa County hones climate action plan; cities to be asked to join in
NVR 6/17/19: Climate action plan heads to Napa County's Planning Commission for comments
NVR 4/23/19: Napa County looks at coordinated climate protection effort with cities
NVR 3/13/19: Napa Valley Grapegrowers coordinates with global wine industry on climate change
Wine and Water Watch 7/28/17: Judge Rules Climate Action 2020 Plan Violates CEQA
Space Daily 5/7/18: Tourism nearly a tenth of global CO2 emissions

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Climate Action Plan DEIR 2019


Bill Hocker - Jun 16, 2019 5:26AM  Share #2025

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.

Wine tourism and global warming


Bill Hocker - May 8, 2019 2:04AM  Share #1551


GHG generation: agriculture vs tourism
Update 5/8/19
A significant UN study has been released detailing the probable extinction of a million species in the coming decades as a result of human expansion and consumption and the resulting global warming. It covers a much broader set of facts and conclusions than just species loss. One of the conclusions: "8%: of total greenhouse gas emissions are from transport and food consumption related to tourism". The number appears to be based on the same study below which was initially pegged at 10% but has now been revised downward. It is still a significant percentage of the total.

Update 8/11/18
The Napa County Climate Action Plan begins a restart after a year's hiatus at the Planning Commission on Aug 15th 2018. For those hoping that the Sonoma County ruling (see below) would produce a much more comprehensive look at how Napa's development trajectory might change when considering the life cycle GHG impacts of its industries, the revised plan will disappoint. The CAP still contains the disclaimer that the "the preparation of the 2014 GHG emissions inventory for the County's CAP does not include the calculation of the community's global "carbon footprint."" The reduction of GHG's based on the basic land use decisions (like continuing to approve GHG-intensive tourism in the county's far reaches or bulldozing of carbon sequestering forests for carbon-questionable vineyards) will not be evaluated. Only ways to lessen the emissions resulting from those decisions.

Update 5/6/18
Space Daily 5/7/18: Tourism nearly a tenth of global CO2 emissions [subsequently corrected to 8% from 10%]

Space Daily, a science blog, has reported on an Australian Research finding on the CO2 cost of tourism dependent economies. (research abstract here.)

The county will soon be taking up the stalled County Climate Action Plan, which will presumably look at the CO2 costs of our increase in visitation and expansion of our vineyards at the local level. But the costs of a mass tourism economy go beyond that. "The multi-trillion dollar industry's carbon footprint is expanding rapidly, driven in large part by demand for energy-intensive air travel". ... to places like Napa.

Original Post 7/8/17
Wine and Water Watch 7/28/17: Judge Rules Climate Action 2020 Plan Violates CEQA

The Judge's decision in California Riverwatch vs. Sonoma County, et al. , if it withstands appeal, could become a landmark decision. The essence, as I try to interpret the decision's legalese and the supporting plain text newspaper articles and the statement of attorney Jerry Bernhaut who brought the case, is that:

1. The county failed to consider all of the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts that the county's economic activity generates. For example, how much greenhouse gas is generated bringing a tourist to a winery experience from their point of origin. How much is generated getting a bottle of wine into the hands of a consumer.

2. The county failed to consider a wide enough range of alternative solutions to reduce GHG's in their plan. One alternative not considered, for example, might be a moratorium on the "growth" of new tourism facilities to be able to meet ambitious GHG reduction goals.

The questions being raised get at the fundamental issue of what it will take to reduce global warming. Is it enough to make buildings or vehicles more efficient at burning fuel and still continue to generate ever more urban development inherent in "growth" economies. Can we stop sea level rise, desertification, extreme weather events, or the mass migrations, famine and war caused by a warming climate simply by using solar collectors, bike lanes, vanpool parking spaces, electric powered tractors, or the other tweaks proposed by the Napa County Climate Action Plan? Or does an honest evaluation of the significance of climate change require a look at the impacts of "growth" economies in their entirety, and that slowing or stopping economic "growth", or comparing the GHG impacts of different economic "growth" models, (the conversion of a wine industry to a tourism industry, for example), should be among the alternatives considered given the magnitude of the problem confronting mankind's very existence? In the words of Jerry Bernhaut, "it's time to admit that perpetual growth on a planet with limited resources and carrying capacity is not sustainable."

These county Climate Action Plans are, at this point, voluntary efforts to reduce GHG's. It is possible to see that a county may just forgo making a plan rather than confront the development interests which governments usually serve to promote and protect. And even when such plans become mandatory, as the severity of the problem is realized, given that all governments are controlled by prevailing economic interests loathe to change, and indeed that wealth creation by GHG-producing urban development is baked into the DNA of human society, even in hyper-environmentally-conscious California, the chances of addressing the real problem of global warming look slim indeed.

In 2015, George Caloyannidis penned an editorial, "Hodja's Donkey in Napa traffic", about Napa County's lack of consideration of the complete traffic impacts of individual projects under CEQA.

Napa County CAP returns


Bill Hocker - Aug 15, 2018 10:47AM  Share #1382

Update 8/15/18
NVR 8/15/18: Napa County's draft climate action plan has its critics

A public "Scoping Session" on the plan will be held on Aug 15th, 2018. See Calendar

NVR 8/12/18: Gas water heater phaseout is part of new Napa County climate action proposal (a modest top proposal indeed, as the world burns.)

Planning Director's responses to the Grand Jury report on the shortcomings of the County's Climate Action Plan

Notice of Preparation of a Napa County Climate Action Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report

Redlined version of Draft CAP showing changes between Jan 2017 and Jul 2018

The County Climate Action Plan page is here

From the Revised Draft CAP:
"In response to public comments received in 2017, the County has since prepared a Revised Draft CAP that will be circulated for public review in the Summer of 2018. Public comments will be accepted on the Revised Draft CAP and the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan during the comment period. The County is also preparing an EIR for the CAP pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The EIR will be released for public review following the public review period for the Revised Draft CAP."


Update 1/5/18
NVR 1/5/18: Napa County's climate action plan again delayed

Update 8/4/17
Wine and Water Watch 7/28/17: Judge Rules Climate Action 2020 Plan Violates CEQA

Sonoma County, like Napa County, is crafting a Climate Action Plan. Not good enough, a county judge rules. Napa County will no doubt have to take another look at their proposed CAP in light of the the ruling.

Update 7/9/17 Final Draft CAP
The Planning Commission 7/15/17 review of the county's proposed Climate Action Plan has been continued tentatively to Sep. 20th 2017. The staff presentation of the plan was made and public comments were taken at the 7/5/17 hearing.

At the hearing Dir. Morrison put the impact of the County's climate change efforts into the context of the world's climate problem - unincorporated Napa accounts for 9 millionths of one percent of global GHG's. Our incredible quantification and pontification and angst over the problem in this teeny, tiny corner of the world seem to amount to little more than a feel-good bromide when held up to the magnitude of the problem, as presented in this article in New York Magazine 4 days after the hearing: The Uninhabitable Earth Nevertheless, I suppose, we must do our bit.

The video of the hearing is here

Jim Wilson has taken on the laborious task of transcribing major portions of the hearing. He writes: "I have recorded everything said by Director Morrison and the Ascent project managers Erik de Kok and Honey Walters. Also all statements from the three Planning Commissioners Basayne, Scott and Gallagher. I did not take down any of the public comments except for one - Henry Mattei, an Environmental Science student at USC. He makes some striking observations utilizing the Quercus Group analysis."

Jim Wilson transcription of major portions of the hearing

Update 7/2/17 Final Draft CAP
NVR 7/2/17: Napa County Planning Commission to consider climate action plan

The final draft of Napa County's Climate Action Plan (CAP) will be presented to the County Planning Commission this Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 beginning at 10:00am
Location: Napa County Building, 3rd floor

Meeting Agenda and Documents
Staff Agenda Letter
County's CAP page
Final CAP red-line version
Jim Wilson NVR Letter to the Editor
Christina Benz' comments
Napa Vision 2050 pre-meeting email

Jim Wilson suggests this reading if you don't want to wade through the thousands of pages on the County CAP page:
Quercus Brief
Sierra Club Brief
Center of Biological Diversity brief
County's Master Responses to Public Comments

2/20/17 First Draft CAP
NVR 2/20/17: Napa County proposes carbon-cutting steps to combat global warming

The county has issued their Draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) aimed at reducing the County's Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG's) with a request for comments. A WICC Workshop on the CAP is planned for Feb 23nd, 2017.


CAP and Mountain Peak


Bill Hocker - Aug 10, 2018 10:47AM  Share #2024

From the Draft Climate Action Plan, the two largest contributors of GHG's in Napa County, at 57% of the total, are on-road vehicles and building energy use.

The relationship between building GHG reductions and transport GHG reductions came up in the LEED presentation for our Mountain Peak project on Jan 4th. A great effort was made to reduce energy use (and GHG production) in the design of the building using a LEED scorecard to spur conservation. 70% of the power was to come from the solar panels proposed for the project. Cave air was used to cool the tasting room. There are to be electric automobile chargers and bicycle racks, operable windows, LED lights. The building is LEED platinum, the highest score.

What is not considered in the LEED score is whether or not the building is needed in the first place (the "no-project alternative" required in a CEQA review). In the case of wineries that in fact will not increase the output of wine, but will merely shift the output from an existing winery to a new one (often to provide a new tourism or brand identification venue), the GHG costs of building and maintaining a new winery should be more seriously questioned.

There was one large LEED category that Mountain Peak probably didn't score too well in - dealing with the transport GHG's necessary to access the building. The First LEED scorecard topic is "Location and Transportation", described thus:

    "Surrounding density and diverse uses - 5 points - Intent: to conserve land and protect farmland and wildlife habitat by encouraging development in areas with existing infrastructure. To promote walkability, and transportation efficiency and reduce vehicle distance traveled. To improve public health by encouraging daily physical activity."

    And "Access to Quality transportation - 5 points - Intent: To encourage development in locations shown to have multimodal transportation choices or otherwise reduced motor vehicle use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and other environmental and public health harms associated with motor vehicle use."

Mountain Peak, like more and more tourism venues (few will actually add to the wine produced in the county and many actually pave over vineyards) are moving into the watersheds of the county, meaning that the tourists and hospitality employees that are necessary for their financial justification must be transported ever greater distances - with ever greater generation of GHG's.

Given this interest in reducing transport GHG's in the LEED process and the large proportion of transport GHG's in the CAP pie chart, I was expecting some discussion in the CAP about the wisdom of continuing to approve industrial and commercial facilities, requiring transport of ever increasing numbers of tourists and employees, in remote areas of the county. While the emphasis in the CAP seemed to be on reducing commute distances by van-pooling employees, there was no mention of trying to keep the jobs and impacts in the winery and tourism sectors located near transit corridors in the future. Of course, in Napa many of the employees are farm workers, and a vanpool system for farmworkers is essential to maintain the true agriculture in the county. But most wineries and the hospitality workers they employ, now approved in the watersheds, will be generating a fair amount of carbon-based traffic around the county, and they are not mentioned.

And how much does this remote dispersal of the tourism industry cost in GHG's?
Well, the EPA estimates here that the average vehicle produces .00042 metric tons of GHG gas (MTCO2) for every mile traveled (based on hwy mpg) . The Mountain Peak project anticipates bringing 44000 trips (120 trips/day) up and down the 6 mile length of Soda Canyon Road each year. Were the winery located on the Trail, the GHG's saved would be 44000 x 6 x .00042 = 111 MTCO2/yr from this one project alone.

Looking at the chart of "remote" wineries in the county here we can make a horseback guess about the GHG's expended to make deliveries (of goods and people) to these existing remote wineries. Using averages, the visitation per winery is 5459 and the distance is 4.4 miles from a major highway and the number of vehicle "trips" each day is 37 or 13505 trips/yr. There are 70 wineries in the sample so the GHG's saved if all those wineries were located on major highways would be 13505 x 4.4 x .00042 x 70 = 1747 MTCO2 /yr. If they were located in the industrial zones, or the Hwy 12 corridor rather than up valley, the amount saved would be considerably more. These 70 wineries represent the GHG's generated by about 400,000 visitor slots. But the county currently has perhaps 120 new or expanded wineries, approved or under review, representing some 2,000,000 visitor slots yet to be occupied. And there is no sign of the proposals abating (or of interest on the county's part to reduce approvals.).

While the CAP looks at several ways to reduce GHG's, making a real effort to curb traffic in the county by not locating development in the watersheds is not one of them. It is not just a winery problem - resorts and housing subdivisions (masked as vineyard developments) are happening in the remote corners of the county as well. Unfortunately, in creating a climate action plan, the county's attitude is to suggest technological solutions to reduce the impacts that further urban development will continue to bring to the county. But there is no attempt to reduce the amount of development that is creating those impacts, and in fact by proposing only technological changes to reduce existing impacts the impediments to future development will only be reduced.

Climate Action Plan Public meeting #1


Bill Hocker - Nov 11, 2015 4:56PM  Share #1075

NVR: County climate action plan heats up

I attended the first CAP public meeting on Nov 9th. I'm not sure that the GHG trail that I created from Berkeley and back again was worth it. It was principally a powerpoint presentation by the consulting firm, Ascent Environmental Inc., hired by the county to do their CAP, laying out the process for producing a CAP. The powerpoint presentation is here.

People had some questions - position statements really. One person in the audience was quite concerned that CAP's do not really look at the problem holistically, for example assessing the entire lifecycle of the wine industry in its generation of GHG's.
Dir. Morrison was quick to remind everyone that the county can only assess a very small part of global climate change (they have no ability to influence the GHG's produced by county municipalities much less the rest of the world). The county is already doing more than most CA counties, most US states and most of the nations of the world. It has a 1%/yr growth limit on housing, and voter regulated ag zoning protection. The CAP is drafted to respond to the requirements of State Assembly Bill AB32 which is proscriptive about its areas of concern.

In the most memorable statement of the evening to me, Dir. Morrison did admit that while he was in Yolo County they did an analysis showing that an acre of urbanized land produced something around 100 times the amount of GHG's produced by an acre of farmland. But this was not the kind of abstract analysis asked for in the CAP. CAP mitigations might be used to try to reduce the GHG's of various specific practices but CAP is not a tool to promote policy regulations limiting urban development entirely. (Such as a 1%/yr limit on job creation or non-residential building area.)

As the speaker pointed out, without allowing the mega questions to be asked and the mega solutions to be proposed, the CAP was principally designed to be an environmental (and governmental) fig leaf that allows GHG producing development to continue. Like widening highways, reducing GHG without also reducing the urban development that creates the problems just means more development while at best the problems remain the same.

As I have tried to point out in my own screed on growth issues, the concept is out there of a no-growth, sustainably stable economic future. Napa, with its high value agricultural economy dependent on restrained urban growth, is in a better position than most to realize a successful no-growth economy.

Ms. Walters of Ascent Environmental indicated that the place to take up the larger questions of development and climate change are at Scoping Workshops of the State Air Resources Board. (although the guiding principals of the Scoping plan to "create jobs and support a robust workforce" and embody a "market based program" seems to be stacking the deck against success).

Update - Climate Action Plan public meeting #2:
NVR 2/26/16: County tallies up its greenhouse gas emissions

The Climate Action Plan Nov 5th and 9th


Bill Hocker - Nov 3, 2015 9:15PM  Share #1059

The Napa Sierra Club is hosting a community meeting on Nov 5th to explain how the latest climate science shows global warming can be slowed and discuss specifically what we in Napa can do.
Location: Napa Main Library
Contact Christina Benz

Jim Wilson LTE: Why not value oak woodlands for climate effects?

Jim's LTE is the latest in a string in a buildup to the county's Climate Action Plan discussions on Nov 9th.

Patricia Damery LTE: Response on vineyards and carbon dioxide
Christine Tittle LTE 10/20/15: On forests and vineyards
Mark Luce LTE 10/16/15: Vineyards also offer environmental benefits
Mel Boybosa LTE 8/3/15: Vineyards don't do better than forests
NVR 7/2015: Napa County resuming work on a climate action plan

Documents:
Merenlender et al. conversion of native habitat to vineyard case study
Grismer, Asato: woodland to vineyard conversion stresses groundwater supply
Carlisle et al: Effects of conversion of woodlands to vineyards synopsis
Williams et al: Carbon assessment across vineyard-woodland landscape
Lawrence L Lab: Forests contribute to golbal warming
County's Climate Action Plan page
County voluntary oak woodland management plan
Napa County 2012 Climate Action Plan (too hard on the wine industry apparently)

Supervisor Luce seems to have thrown down the gauntlet with the recent editorial on the environmental benefits of vineyards as opposed to woodlands. I'm sure that the issue of vineyard conversion will be a major topic in the climate discussions.

As the studies above do or don't show there may be difference in the global warming contribution of CO2 between woodlands and vineyards. The facts presented by the studies are, like many facts, interpreted to the benefit of a thesis on the part of the researcher. (Are eggs healtful or not?) But intuitively, in the short term, the conversion of woodlands to vineyards can't be a good thing CO2-wise. Hundreds of years of stored carbon in wood and soil are cut down, dug up, released and burned back into the atmosphere by D10 cats belching smoke for months. And then the vines are tended ever after by diesel tractors and watered by pumps running most of the year (depleting aquifers that may be thousands of years in the making). The forests just sit there storing carbon and replenishing the aquifer. (OK, there is the occasional forest fire.)

Once the climate change horror of the conversion has taken place, I suspect that the climate impacts of forests versus vineyards when considered as abstract ecosystems are really small when compared to the impacts of the hundreds of thousands of vehicle trips that new urban growth and tourism, heavily promoted by the municipalities and county (and Supervisor Luce), will bring into the valley each year. The conversion of forests and vineyards into buildings, roadways, parking lots and gravel pits (and vineyard-themed subdivisions) should play a much more important role in the discussions.

Little will be accomplished in the way of global warming until we stop the real growth problem causing it: the growth in the world's population and the urban development necessary to accommodate it. Unfortunately, real population control is probably not something Napa governments have the courage to take on. But they can make some effort to stop promoting the influx into the county of a transient population (tourists and workers) and of creating the urban development and greenhouse gasses necessary to accommodate it. Napa in the last 50 years has done a good job on the urban growth front, which is why many of us are here. Unfortunately that commitment is wavering, and an attitude that selling things is a higher use of the land than growing things has begun to take hold. A recommitment to the original intent of the ag preserve, to protect a rural place from urban development, is one local way to combat climate change and should be a part of the CAP discussion.

Climate Action Plan 2 at the BOS


Chris Malan - Jul 14, 2015 9:46AM  Share #896

BOS agenda item 6H 7/14/15

Hello Board of Supervisors,

With the contract being approved today for CAP 2 Napa County must reduce carbon emissions by:

1.) reducing green house gas emissions-no trade offs-but calling for all projects new and established to reduce GHGs so we join in other efforts statewide to reduce the devastating and dangerous human impacts causing climate change

2.) protect and promote sequestration of GHG through natural eco-systems for the health safety and welfare of Napa-our forests and wild lands are not suitable for agricultural/vineyards (deforestation)

We look forward to a robust CAP2 that protects and conserves our natural resources which is the genisus of clean and available water sources for all who live here, including the animals.

Thank You,
Chris Malan
Watershed Advocate

Climate-friendly planning


Jim Wilson - Feb 2, 2015 9:00AM  Share #581

Some thoughts based on our [PRN Board] meeting yesterday:

I mentioned Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs, cofounders of Movement Rights. I'd like to invite them to speak to our various neighborhood associations in the Grand Coalition. They have experience in the community rights process. I'm working on it. http://www.movementrights.org

Some thoughts on strategy and action items and measures. This document (attached) is based on pre-gathering-of-the-tribes meetings held in my neck-of-the-woods leading up to the launch of the GC. We didn't complete the details of our lobbying actions or community outreach. Emphasis is the respect and valuing of our watersheds.

I'm looking at our mission statement.
Dedicated to promoting land conservation awareness, education and outreach in Napa County for the benefit of current and future generations.

As far as conservation I'd emphasize the need for climate-friendly planning in all we do from now on. The latest science - and not-so-latest science, to be honest - demands a moral choice. Either we live in harmony with Nature or wreck it. We know that to have conservation, or a livable planet, we need a workable climate. Napa County is one of of the three counties in the 9-county BAAQMD that does not have a Climate Action Plan. The BAAQMD is busy planning for absolute carbon emission reductions of 80%(!) by 2050. I wonder if all the wine we pour is a sign of blissful ignorance, or desperation.

David Morrison headed up CAP in Yolo Co but he hesitates to go all in. Napa is uniquely qualified to lead since the industry has so much to lose if we fail to drastically reduce GHG pollution starting now. This is not hyperbole and all we need to do is point to January's issue of Scientific American and the fate of Napa wine in a business-as-usual scenario. But Napa's leaders are climate freeloaders. We don't want to hear about China and India. We need our supervisors to be climate leaders now and we will need a strategy to grow the political will to do that.

In last Sunday's Press Democrat, a few days after reporting Guy Fieri's winery was unanimously rejected by the Board of Zoning Adjustments - again below the fold of section B - the homage to Bill Kortum. He worked on getting Coastal Commission ballot initiative, PG&E's nuke plant at Bodega Bay, and a variety of Sonoma Co conservation efforts. But what struck me was how one eulogist called him the opposite of NIMBY. He was an IMBY.

We need to be IMBYs. We're going to be painted as nay-sayers. Paul Woolls pulled this on the Mt Veeder Stewardship folks: You say No to everything. Whether that's true or not isn't the point. If we are to come to a change in our collective consciousness regarding our watersheds and neighbors treating neighbors humanely, we are going to need to provide a vision for a better place. A Yes to the better place, making us neighborhood associations the IMBYs of conscientious care of our land and ourselves. As promoters of land conservation we promote the conservation of the fragile climate on which nature - birthing grounds for future generations - is wholly dependent.

Speaking of Climate Leadership, there's a large rally in Oakland Saturday 2/7. I think this would be a valuable experience for us if you haven't been to one lately. We can lend support to a state-wide cause and come away energized with new ideas for our Napa awareness and outreach efforts.

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Ron Cowan adds:

See attached winery GHG emissions chart. Add to to these figures the GHG emissions due to grape pomace disposal.




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