Monday, August 2, 2010

Summary of Town Hall Meeting on Sustainability

This article was part of Sue Lembert's weekly column in the San Mateo Daily Journal on August 2, 2010

This is a discouraging time for those who want to address climate change in a meaningful way on the international, national and state level. Failure to reach an international agreement in Copenhagen last year, followed by the recent decision of the U.S. Senate to delay a Democrat-sponsored cap-and-trade bill are steps in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, this November, Californians will decide whether to adopt a Texas oil company-sponsored initiative to halt the state’s groundbreaking law to cut emissions. Assembly Bill 32 requires the state to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020. Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro are funding Proposition 23 which puts AB32 on hold until the state’s unemployment rate drops to a fixed level which may not be achievable. The measure would also kill competition and jobs from California’s clean-technology companies. Opponents say the sponsors are among the top 10 polluters in our state. The governor and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz are against the initiative, as are most Democrats and environmentalists. Even so, other oil company sponsored initiatives have recently been successful because of expensive and deceptive television and radio commercials.

So it was a pleasant surprise to be part of a well-attended meeting at the San Mateo City Hall last week to see what we as individuals could do to help. The city of San Mateo, according to Councilman David Lim, is leading the way with its climate action plan for fall 2010. There is a build it green rating system where points are awarded for eco-friendly building elements such as low-flow toilets and high-efficiency shower heads. There are residential loans to assist single family homeowners to repair deteriorated private sewer laterals. The California First program provides low-interest funding for environmental improvements. Residents can obtain loans with a payback over 20 years for such energy savers as solar panels and water efficiency. PG&E offers rebates on energy efficient products. The audience was told that every minute you shorten your shower you can save up to 75 gallons of water per month. And you can save more by not letting the faucet run when you brush your teeth or clean dishes before loading the dishwasher. Raphael Reyes, director of the Bay Area Climate Collective, sounded upbeat when he said we were now moving from the impossible to the inevitable. More and more auto manufacturers are planning or are already offering electric cars.


1 comment:

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