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Waxman-Markey Federal Bill to Reduce GHG

In what is predicted to be a very close vote today, the famed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey Bill) is on the floor of the US House of Representatives. The bill as it stands would require a cap and trade system (similar to that used in fighting acid rain) to be implemented nationwide for the largest greenhouse gas emitters. Emissions nationwide would be required to lower 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 from a 2005 baseline. If the house passes the bill, it will likely face an even tougher battle in the Senate, which would require a 60% vote to pass. President Obama announced during his campaign that climate change would be among the most important issues of his administration.

Our project was originally proposed due to the California legislation Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) and anticipated similar federal legislation. Hopefully our work will be useful for communities, newly charged with the task of lowering their greenhouse gas emissions. It is certainly a daunting task but an exciting opportunity. In the midst of an economic recession, these bills should be viewed as a catalyst for a new economy based on sustainability and smart growth. The five of us representing the Bren|AECOM group project look forward to favorable results with the Waxman-Markey bill and the larger steps that eventually follow it.

Read more: Washington Post, Associated Press

Linking with a Similar Project in China

During the onset of our project, our Advisor, Oran Young, informed us of a similar community emissions reduction prject taking place in China. Oran has connected our group with the group from Nanjing University in China and both groups are planning on sharing information as our projects progress. Here's a brief synopsis of the China project:

Wuxi is an industrial and commercial center in China, situated between Lake Taihu and the Yangtse River. The basin area currently suffers from the pressures of pollution and resource consumption, including a panic-inducing algal bloom in Lake Taihu during the summer of 2007. With an average depth of 2-3 meters, Lake Taihu would be greatly influenced by climate change. The Low Carbon City program at Wuxi is part of a local project called Planning for a Pioneer City of Ecological Civilization, with the cooperation of local Development and Reform Commission (DRC). This project also has three phases:

  • Looking at similar projects across the globe (“Pioneer Cities”) and creating a survey to gauge Chinese communities’ awareness, knowledge, and attitude towards climate change and their willingness-to-pay for a low carbon community
  • Establish baseline emissions data for the chosen community(ies)
  • Develop carbon emissions reduction plans

A more detailed project description was supplied by the head researcher, Linxuan Liu, and can be downloaded or viewed by clicking the attachment below:

First Meeting with Ventura Planning Division

On May 5th, our entire group headed down to Ventura in Michael's Civic to meet with Joe Yahner of Ventura City Planning. Joe is a Bren alumn from 2000 and is really excited about working with us. Rick Cole, Ventura City Manager, even stopped by for a few minutes.

Joe reported Ventura's municipal GHG emissions for the CCAR registry and shared some additional data he had with us. He is also going to allow us to use Ventura's ICLEI account and will use his connections to get us as much baseline data, in the greatest detail, as possible.

Joe will be an external advisor, joining the ranks of our esteemed Advisory Committee.

Collaboration 2.0

With the many tools available today like Google Docs and DropBox, it is so much easier to work as a group than even four years ago when I started my undergrad degree. This website was built using the open-source Drupal CMS package. It takes some web know-how but Drupal is vastly extendable most needs. Our group needed a contact list, so I created a view to display it in our internal version of this site. Our AECOM contacts suggested a task manager to guide us and track our hours, here it is:

Our Bren|AECOM Task Manager

The point of this post is that it was really fast to get up and running for this project and it is so much more efficient than the old way of simply emailing revisions around. Logistics are out of the way and this project is ready to roll.

Side note: when is Microsoft Word going to store documents on a server and allow simultaneous editing? Also, have you seen It is a free Microsoft Office replacement for Macs, Windows, and Linux.

Selecting Ventura

In our meeting today, we decided to focus the case study of our project on Ventura, CA, because of the wide assortment of potential greenhouse gas sources found there. Ventura represents a good mixture of commercial and residential infrastructure along the California coastline in a fairly populated region. While we love our local community of Santa Barbara, we feel it has limited industrial diversity - with dominant residential and service sectors - for what we hope to accomplish in our project. Much original study of this nature has already focused on Santa Barbara because of events like the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and the presence of a large research institution like UCSB here, among many grassroots organizations. Ventura does also have a number of interested parties, but we felt it was the best neighboring mix for our study.

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