Wednesday, July 18, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 19

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 12th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 28

County supervisors debate climate change during meeting


The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors was presented the progress report from the county’s 2015 Energy and Climate Action Plan at its Sept. 12 meeting, and the supervisors used much of their designated comment time to reiterate their stances on climate change and how best to tackle it.

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam directly addressed his statements to a group of students in attendance and said the plan essentially distracted the supervisors from focusing on the county’s ailing infrastructure.

“You guys are watching all this now—and I know you hear a lot about climate change and all this stuff—but you have a real world problem with your roads,” he said, arguing that the county’s transportation arteries were already underfunded by nearly $62 million.

Adam argued the roads were deteriorating faster due to neglect, and went on to list some $100 million in deferred maintenance costs for county buildings, calling the numbers underestimations.

“So there is a lot of money out here that is on your back due to the fact we aren’t taking care of business now,” Adam told the students. Instead, he said, the county was too focused on “doing these things that are really sexy and politically expedient, like climate change.”

Adam added he did not believe in climate change.

“It’s just an expensive idea designed to take eyes off the real balls, which are these very real world things going on in our world, especially Santa Barbara County,” he said.

During the meeting, supervisors Janet Wolf, Joan Hartmann, and Das Williams all took moments to affirm their beliefs in climate change, contrary to Adam.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino made no indication whether he believed in climate change or not, but did vote with supervisors Wolf, Hartmann, and Williams on a motion to further study pieces of the action plan presented on Sept. 12.

The plan identifies actions the county can take to save energy, water, money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with state-level greenhouse gas reduction goals. The plan also seeks to lower emissions in the unincorporated county to 15 percent below 2007 levels, which were 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to a county press release.

Ultimately, the new progress report found that unincorporated county communities reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30,605 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent, the same as keeping roughly 6,500 cars from driving or operating at all for a year.

Supervisors directed staff to return at the next update and present a miles-per-gallon standard for county vehicles and the types it would apply to, as well as information on what county employees can do to help reach greenhouse emission goals.

The motion also included direction for staff to begin reaching out to cities for collaboration, along with a request for staff to hold a workshop on carbon farming—a process that involves capturing excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in soil through agricultural land management.

April Price with the Santa Barbara-based Community Environmental Council told the supervisors during the meeting that carbon farming was already implemented in Yolo and San Diego counties, which are seeing success with those programs.

“One simple practice is to apply compost and, according to our analysis, a dusting of just 1.4 inches of compost to suitable grassland in the county could offset emission for the entire county’s ag sector,” she said.

The motion passed 4-1, with Adam casting the dissenting vote.

A date has not yet been set for county staff’s follow-up to the supervisors’ motion.

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