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Greenhouse gas emissions down again in Sonoma County

By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Greenhouse gas emissions declined in Sonoma County in 2011 for the third straight year, reflecting an expansion of renewable energy sources and a down economy, which lowered demand for power and transportation.

Still, Sonoma County’s goal of reducing emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2015 remains elusive, officials said Tuesday.

The annual report card by the Climate Protection Campaign was presented at the Sonoma County Strategies for Sustainability, a conference that drew 160 people from government, industry and the public to discuss better environmental practices.

“We have to try harder,” said Michael Kyes, Sebastopol’s vice mayor, who was attending the conference.

Setting such a lofty goal is important, even if it might not be met, said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

“The goal is high, but not impossible,” Helfrich said. “The big kahuna is transportation. . . . We are asking people to change their lives and that is a lot harder than telling people to put insulation in their attic or install solar.”

To set the tone, the conference was held in Santa Rosa’s new $40 million public utilities building, which includes enough solar to handle almost all of its energy needs, high-efficiency heating and cooling units and water recycling systems.

The bowls holding candy on tables were part of the city’s so-called library of donated dishes. Plates were washable and reusable plastic water cups were handed out.

“Everybody with a little bit can make a difference,” said Dell Tredinnick, Santa Rosa project development manager. “Individual contributions are important.”

In 2011, there were 3.79 million tons of carbon dioxide released in Sonoma County. Most was generated by transportation, which accounted for 60 percent of the emissions, followed by natural gas use, 16 percent; electricity, 12 percent; and livestock waste, 10 percent.

Emissions fell for the third straight year, a descent that began in 2008, when 4.39 million tons of carbon dioxide were released. The target is 2.5 million tons by 2015.

The figures are estimates based by data supplied by more than a dozen different sources, including the Environmental Protection Agency and state Air Resources Board.

Even though the figures are admittedly imprecise, particularly for the transportation sector, they follow a national formula and indicate a trend showing a reduction.

Ann Hancock, the Climate Protection Campaign’s executive director, said the use of renewable energy sources, rainy years that increase hydropower generation, and commercial and industrial vacancies caused by the economy were the major factors in a 13.5 percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity.

Carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, the largest single contributor, were down 3 percent. Sonoma County residents drove fewer miles last year, because of the sluggish economy and the increase in gas prices, officials said.

However, the slow economy also inhibited investments by companies in technology to reduce emissions, Tredinnick said.

“It is difficult to make the capital improvements, for a business to say . . . ‘I can make the investment in a bad economy,’ ” Tredinnick said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob. norberg@pressdemocrat.com.





8 Responses to “Greenhouse gas emissions down again in Sonoma County”

  1. barbi says:

    Rah, rah! Carbon emissions are down due to the recession! Let’s just go into full blown depression and get those emissions down to zero. And all freeze and starve to death. Green and sustainable, baby!

    Rah, rah! Carbon emissions are down due to “green technologies.” The buzzing packs of Prius’s have won! Let’s all drive little plastic death traps that pack around 500 pound extremely toxic batteries that we can’t dispose of; little death traps that are designed to self destruct at 100,000 miles. Let’s do this because barry (the great dictator) said so!

    Oh never mind, I think I will just stay safe in my super fun, carbon spewing, mini-tank BMW that will run for 500,000 miles and allow me to survive any accident. (BTW, thanks Jim!)

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. James Bennett says:

    Frank: they even got EPA to classify carbon dioxide a toxin.

    I’ve given our Council and BoS all kinds of information both in person and by e-mail, no response.

    They’re more interested in keeping their gig “sustainable” than doing so with our well being.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. Frank says:

    James Thanks for the chuckle

    when the byproduct of CO2 becomes a hazzard or labeled a pollutant, think the PD will write a scathing revue, more likely a feel good peice

    Even though the figures are admittedly imprecise < — however, it rules all EIRs

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. James Bennett says:

    Frank: Yeah, but it’s past “royal scam” status.
    It represents the cornerstone, the postulate, the reason for an oppression of everything we hold dear.

    IF, we let it happen.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  5. Western Cluebird says:

    Don’t worry, chicken little, the globe is not warming and hasn’t been for sixteen years.
    The OVERWHELMING unbiased science proves it.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  6. Frank says:

    there were 3.79 million tons of carbon dioxide released in Sonoma County.

    LMAO,
    yeah its so bad, yeah, yeah, that any indoor pot grower worth there salt knows, pump that carbon and watch that plant grow.
    what a royal scam
    I wonder what would happen if we could remove all that CO2 from the planet, wouldn’t have to listen to Al (fat) Gore stamp his feet, anybody seen his investments and what he pilots

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  7. Terry says:

    @James Bennett

    What is a lie is that the Earth is flat. What isn’t a lie is the OVERWHELMING science of human induced warming.

    With that being said, what sits before us is an opportunity within a new market segment of renewables and efficiency augmentations.

    Don’t worry Chicken Little, the sky is not falling. To those who do not consider themselves victims, great reward is ahead.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 19

  8. James Bennett says:

    Completely de-industrializing a nation over a lie.

    Crashing our economy based on a lie.

    Taking away our rights based on a lie.

    We have to spread the truth…

    At least try.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

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