SACRAMENTO, Calif. (September 30, 2008) – California’s historic endeavor to solve global warming got a major boost today when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a landmark law to reduce vehicle pollution through better transportation and land use planning, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV). The conservation groups, which co-sponsored the law, hailed SB 375 as the missing piece of the climate pollution puzzle.
The legislation by Sen. Darrell Steinberg would reduce heat-trapping pollution from cars by providing incentives for cities to build more compact neighborhoods with more options for people to walk, bike and take public transportation instead of driving. The groups said the new law is needed because the number of miles driven by Californians is increasing at nearly twice the rate of the state’s population growth.
“Putting cleaner cars on the road and filling their tanks with cleaner fuel isn’t enough to achieve our pollution reduction goals as long as the number of miles we drive continues to grow out of control,” said Ann Notthoff, NRDC California advocacy director. “That’s why this law is so great. It is the missing piece in California’s plan to reduce global warming pollution. By giving people a choice to get out of their cars once in a while we can take a big bite out of our global warming pollution, and save drivers money too.”
At the current rate and patterns of development, the total number of miles driven by Californians is projected to increase by 60 percent in the next 20 years according to Caltrans. Since cars and light trucks emit about 30 percent of California’s global warming pollution, getting a handle on their emissions is essential to reducing heat-trapping pollution to 1990 levels by 2020, as required by the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).
“Land use is an essential part, but the hardest part, of the climate equation,” said CLCV President Tom Adams. “This signature sends a crucial message from Arnold to sprawl: ‘Suck it up.’ AB 32, California's landmark climate law set the stage for this crucial step.”
SB 375 will encourage more compact new development and transportation alternatives by offering local governments transportation funding. It requires the California Air Resources Board to set vehicle emission reduction targets for each region of the state. Regional agencies would use their existing “blueprint” planning process to develop their own strategies to achieve the targets. State transportation funding would be offered to local governments to implement the blueprint plans to achieve the targets.
“We know that better planning works,” said Notthoff. “On average, Americans living in compact neighborhoods where cars are not the only transportation option drive one-third fewer miles. Besides reducing global warming pollution, this also saves people money at the gas pump.”