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News & Updates

Browse news stories on local climate and energy action in California, or updates relevant to California local governments.

San Francisco Government Closes In On CO2 Reduction Goal

SF Gate

Forward-thinking San Franciscans might not like to admit it, but in at least one area, City Hall bureaucrats have them beat.

Back in 2004, officials vowed that within eight years, San Francisco would reduce greenhouse gas emissions so much they would measure 20 percent less than the 1990 level. The bad news? The city as a whole isn't going to hit the target. The good news? City government probably will.

>> Read the Full Article

Green Power Partnership Helps Cities Choose their Shade of Green

American City & Council

As local governments continue to pursue ways to reduce their carbon footprints, many turn to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership (GPP) for advice on choosing the most suitable renewable energy options for their operations. In some cases, direct green power purchases are inaccessible or insufficient, so cities and counties are choosing to support alternative energy through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Nearly 1,300 organizations, including more than 100 cities and local governments, are part of GPP, says the program's director Blaine Collison. "The questions we get most often are not, 'What are the technologies?' but rather, 'How do we get them?' and 'From where?' We help them to understand the landscape of options available," he says.

>> Read the Full Article

U.S. Can Reduce Transporation GHG by 65%, Report Says

Environmental Leader

“Reasonable actions” in the realms of technology, policy and consumer behavior could deliver up to a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation by 2050, a report says.

The report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change lays out three plausible scenarios of actions that could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, which is responsible for more than a quarter of U.S. GHG emissions.

>> Read the Full Article

Los Angeles Bus Fleet Now Cleanest In The Nation


The city still known for its smog will not have its buses to blame - the last of its diesel-fueled ones retired Jan. 12 in a celebration. All but 7 of the 2,221 buses will be compressed-natural-gas powered; electric and gas-electric the remainder.

LA can rightfully boast having the cleanest bus fleet of any major transit agency in the nation. There are "a couple of dozen smaller transit agencies, including those in Oxnard and Santa Barbara, that have already replaced their entire fleets."

>> Read the Full Article

New Buildings in California Now Required to Be More Efficient

Green Biz

SACRAMENTO, CA — New buildings in California must now be more environmentally responsible under provisions of the state's Green Building Standards Code that took effect with the new year.

CALGreen is the first statewide green building code in the country and contains voluntary as well as mandatory provisions. The required measures set a threshold for green building in the state and the voluntary portions provide parameters for higher standards of green building. The rules are the latest version of California building code provisions that began as entirely voluntary measures. Adopted in 2008, the provisions took effect in 2009 with a timetable to convert the baseline standards to mandatory measures.

>> Read the Full Article

California First State to Adopt New National Efficiency Standard for Light Bulbs

The Sacramento Bee

Californians will see the light – and a resulting energy cost savings – earlier than the rest of the United States.

The California Energy Commission says Golden State consumers will be the first in the nation to save money under a federal law improving the energy-efficiency standard of light bulbs.

>> Read the Full Article


More U.S. Cities Dimming the Lights

USA Today

The push to turn down the lights in American cities is gaining broad support from several unlikely allies — from conservationists and builders to city planners and the military.

Dark-sky legislation — laws requiring such measures as shielding outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution — has been embraced by about 300 counties, cities and towns.

>> Read the Full Article

CA Leads Way on Global Warming


Washington failed miserably to take action on climate change this year. The nation's best hope is California, which made a historic leap forward last week when its Air Resources Board approved a broad-based cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

It was no simple task to get here. After the Legislature passed AB32, the state contended with enormous pressure to scale or roll it back.

>> Read the Full Article

CA Landmark Climate Regulations Embrace Forests as Key Tool for Reducing Carbon Emissions

Red Orbit

The Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) commends the California’s Air Resources Board's Dec. 16 adoption of a set of regulations that will govern the state’s landmark cap and trade system. The board's nine-to-one vote brings the state one step closer to implementing the first economy-wide cap on greenhouse emissions in the nation, by creating a cap and trade program. The program is a key component of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, otherwise known as AB 32, which requires California to reduce greenhouse gas pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.

California is creating the first compliance carbon market in the world to include projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved forest management as a source of carbon offsets under its climate plan. Such offsets – also called carbon credits – can provide a portion of the carbon reductions required by the adopted regulations.

>> Read the Full Article

The Other Effect of CA's Clean Air Laws


Pollution reduction measures that were aimed primarily at reducing California's notorious smog problem and improving public health, also helped cut emissions of black carbon — a key global warming agent — according to a new study published Tuesday.

Black carbon, more commonly referred to as soot, is an atmospheric particulate that scientists have shown to be a significant contributor to global warming. It is an attractive target for emissions reductions because relatively cost effective technologies to reduce it already exist, such as diesel particulate filters for trucks, and because unlike carbon dioxide (CO2), which stays in the air for decades to millennia, black carbon only remains airborne for days to weeks.

>> Read the Full Article

San Jose, CA Bans Plastic Shopping Bags and Free Paper Ones


A growing number of cities and states around the world are taking on the blight of plastic shopping bags, but San Jose, California has just taken things to another level--passing a new ordinance that bans giving out free single-use carryout bags altogether.

The new ordinance, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, bans most-retailers using single-use plastic bags and mandates charging for paper bags. Provided paper bags have at least 40% recycled content, customers will have to be charged ¢10 initially and ¢25 starting in 2013. Food stamp and other welfare recipients will get paper bags for free. The fine for violating the ban ranges from $500-1000.

>> Read the Full Article

San Francisco Eyes Goal of 100% Green Power by 2020

The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO -- Outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) last week launched an initiative that he says will result in 100 percent renewables to meet this city's power demand within a decade.

Newsom, who becomes lieutenant governor of California next month, announced the program during a speech commemorating the completion of the Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, which at 5 megawatts is the largest municipal solar facility in the state.

>> Read the Full Article

Nearly $66 Million in Federal Funding Available for State, Local, and Tribal Governments


December 2010 - Nearly $66 Million in Federal Funding Available for State, Local, and Tribal Governments

This message announces the availability of nearly $66 million in current or upcoming funding opportunities for state, local, and tribal governments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that can be used to support climate and energy initiatives, including energy efficiency, regional planning, and community education. For full eligibility and application details, please visit the links provided below.

*** USDA Rural Community Development Initiative - $6.3 million

Application Due: December 22, 2010

Eligible Entities: State governments, local governments, Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and others

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for the Rural Community Development Initiative. This initiative supports organization capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development in rural area. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, programs that support micro-enterprise and sustainable development, and programs to assist recipients in completing pre-development requirements for housing, community facilities, or community and economic development projects by providing resources for professional services, e.g., architectural, engineering, or legal. For more information, including state contacts, go to:

*** USDA Solid Waste Management Grant Program - $3.5 million

Application Due: December 31, 2010

Eligible Entities: Public bodies, federally acknowledged or state-recognized Native American tribe or group, academic institutions, and private non-profit organizations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requests proposals for the Solid Waste Management Grant Program. This program supports projects that assist communities through free technical assistance and/or training geared toward reducing or eliminating pollution of water resources in rural areas, and improving planning and management of solid waste sites in rural areas. For more info, contact LaVonda Pernell at or go to:

*** EPA Integrated Assessment of Greenhouse Gases and Climate Impacts- $2 million

Application Due: January 7, 2011

Eligible Entities: States, local governments, territories, Indian tribes, international organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private non-profit institutions. For-profit organizations are not eligible.

EPA has announced the availability of funds and is soliciting proposals to advance comprehensive, integrated modeling and assessment of multiple greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Proposals should also provide ways to enhance understanding of climate change impacts and their economic implications in order to assist decision makers and the public in effectively responding to the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change. For more information, view the funding announcement at:

*** NOAA K-12 Environmental Literacy Grants - $8 million

Application Due: January 12, 2011

Eligible Entities: Institutions of higher education; other non-profits; K-12 public and independent schools and school systems; and state, local, and Indian tribal governments in the United States

The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, requests proposals for Environmental Literacy Grants for Formal K-12 Education. This RFP will support K-12 education projects that advance inquiry-based Earth System Science learning and stewardship directly tied to the school curriculum, with a particular interest in increasing climate literacy. $8 million is expected to be available; up to 10 awards are anticipated. For more information, contact Carrie McDougall at or go to: Refer to Sol# NOAA-SEC-OED-2011-2002608.

*** EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program FY 2011 Request for Proposals- $32 million

Application Due: January 13, 2011

Eligible Entities: Regional, state, local or tribal agencies or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, and certain non-profit organizations and institutions

EPA’s National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program is soliciting proposals nationwide for projects that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions in terms of tons of pollution produced and diesel emissions exposure, particularly from fleets operating in areas designated by the Administrator as poor air quality areas. Eligible diesel emission reduction solutions include verified emission control technologies such as retrofit devices, cleaner fuels, and engine upgrades; verified idle reduction technologies; verified aerodynamic technologies and low rolling resistance tires; certified engine repowers; and/or vehicle or equipment replacement. For more information, view the funding announcement posted at:

*** EPA Upcoming Request for Applications for Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants Program - $4 million

Application Due: January 14, 2011

Eligible Entities: Local governments, Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and others

EPA solicited comments through September 13th, 2010, on the new FY2011 Grant Application Guidelines for this funding opportunity. The RFA announces availability of grants for helping eligible entities deliver environmental workforce development and job training programs focused on hazardous and solid waste management, assessment, and cleanup activities. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 13 environmental workforce development and job training cooperative agreements from this competitive opportunity. For more information, visit or access the draft grant application guidelines at:

*** EPA Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Funding Assistance Program - $4 million

Application Due: January 27, 2011

Eligible Entities: Regional, state, local, or tribal agencies or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, and certain non-profit organizations and institutions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requests proposals for the Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Funding Assistance Program. This RFP will support projects that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions in terms of tons of pollution produced and diesel emissions exposure, particularly from fleets operating in areas designated by the Administrator as poor air quality areas. Eligible diesel emission reduction solutions are listed on the Emerging Technologies List at: For more info, contact Michael Wolfe at or go to:

*** EPA SmartWay Program - $6 million

Application Due: February 10, 2011

Eligible Entities: Regional, state, local, or tribal agencies or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, and certain non-profit organizations and institutions

EPA’s SmartWay Program and National Clean Diesel Campaign are announcing the availability of funding assistance to create finance programs, such as low-cost leases or revolving loan programs, to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions throughout the United States. The SmartWay Finance Program is soliciting proposals for projects that reduce diesel emissions through the creation of national, tribal, regional, state or local finance program(s). Finance programs include, but are not limited to, those that provide the loan recipient a specific financial incentive (i.e., longer terms or lower rates) to purchase or lease eligible retrofitted vehicles or equipment. The proposed finance program should maximize the total project funds available for financing eligible diesel emission reduction solutions and be sustainable to maintain the program.

Eligible diesel emission reduction solutions include verified emission control technologies such as retrofit devices and engine upgrades; verified idle reduction technologies; certified engine repowers, and/or vehicle or equipment replacement.


State and local officials interested in additional information about developing and implementing cost-effective climate and energy strategies that help further environmental goals and achieve public health and economic benefits may visit:

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California Climate Law Details to Get Grand Unveiling

Solve Climate News

As politicians around the nation become increasingly hesitant about taking action against global warming, California is pushing ahead this week with two much-awaited steps that will have broad implications for climate policies at home and elsewhere.

The decisions by state regulators in separate meetings Thursday amount to the grand unveiling of California's climate strategy after years of debate and exhaustive policy-crunching.

>> Read the Full Article

From California, a Game Plan on Climate Change

New York Times

As the push for national and international policies to arrest climate change was running into one obstacle after another, a separate discussion was coming to the fore: how to adapt to it.

New York State and California are creating blueprints for how governments should plan, and pay for, a wholesale retreat from the shoreline in anticipation of a possible rise in sea level of three or four feet or more by 2100.

>> Read the Full Article

Program to Help Central Valley Cities Address Climate Change

UC Merced

Release Date: 11/05/2010

Media Contact: James Leonard

Great Valley Center's Green Communities Program to develop greenhouse gas emissions inventories for Valley city governments

A new program organized by the Great Valley Center — a partner of the University of California, Merced — will offer free assistance to local governments in the San Joaquin Valley to help them develop an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately offer recommendations on how each city can reduce the amount of energy used in its own operations.

The Green Communities Program, funded by PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission and implemented with the help of ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, will pay interns from UC Merced, University of the Pacific and California State University, Stanislaus, to work with staff members in participating cities.

Thus far, cities that have signed on to participate in the Green Communities Program are Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, Patterson, Oakdale, Riverbank, Hughson, Waterford, Newman and Livingston. Stanislaus County and the cities of Los Banos and Sanger are also looking into the program.

The Great Valley Center interns will use meter information to assess energy use while also interviewing city staff members about solid waste management, sewage treatment, landfill emissions and even commuting practices. They will then offer customized recommendations based on the findings.

"The Green Communities Program works to equip local governments with information to make better decisions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions as they reduce energy consumption," said Dejeune Shelton, interim executive director of the Great Valley Center. "The cities that are a part of this program will be able to use the data to implement their greenhouse gas reduction goals effectively, which will have a positive effect on their community's quality of life."

Many large cities in the Valley, including Sacramento, Stockton and Fresno, have already started planning for climate change. But smaller cities often lack the financial resources or staff time to commit to these programs or hire consultants.

In addition to helping those cities plan for climate change, the program also gives cities an opportunity to become leaders in sustainability, setting an example for their residents and neighboring towns.

"This will be an extremely valuable program for these smaller cities in our Valley," said Tim Fisher, the Great Valley Center's energy program manager. "In addition to revising development patterns, city governments can lead by example and take steps to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle fleets, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and administrative buildings."

The program also furthers UC Merced's overall sustainability goals, which include raising awareness, understanding and knowledge of sustainability within and beyond the UC Merced community by enabling elected officials to incorporate sustainability in their decisions and policies.

With the final list of participating cities nearing completion, Fisher said the interns are likely to begin working with city staff members next week.

Quick Facts

  • The Great Valley Center's Green Communities Program will use paid interns to inventory greenhouse gas emissions for local governments in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Cities that have signed on for the program so far include Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, Patterson, Oakdale Riverbank, Hughson, Waterford, Newman and Livingston.
  • In addition to helping cities plan for climate change, the program also gives them an opportunity to become leaders in sustainability, setting an example for their residents and neighboring towns.


Schwarzenegger Launches New Climate Change Group

Los Angelos Times

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday launched an international organization to tackle climate change with leaders from regional governments in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and the United States.

The failure to achieve an international climate pact in Copenhagen last year left many people discouraged, Schwarzenegger said, addressing several hundred delegates to a "climate summit" at UC Davis. But now, he added, "The sub-nationals should do their work.... The green revolution is moving forward full speed ahead without the international agreement."

>> Read the Full Article

Richmond, California's Green Victory

The Huffington Post

While the recent elections were seen as a setback for environmental advocates nationally, for the small city of Richmond in San Francisco's East Bay it marked a tidal shift in a seven-year battle to protect Point Molate, the last large undeveloped headland on the bay from a mega-casino. Here at least the election demonstrated that poor communities can assert their right to control their own shorelines and perhaps their own destinies despite outside pressure.

On the winning side were local activists of Citizens For a Sustainable Point Molate and the Richmond Progressive Alliance that includes the Green Party Mayor of this low-income predominantly African-American and Hispanic city of just over 100,000.

>> Read the Full Article

Schwarzenegger Pushes for Regional Climate Change Pact

USA Today

DAVIS, Calif. (AP) — In the year since an attempt for a global climate-change treaty failed, California has been trying a different strategy to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing state and regional governments around the globe to act, saying the effort must be led locally in the absence of national and international momentum.

Starting Monday, the outgoing Republican governor hosts his third and final California climate summit, at the University of California, Davis, just outside the state capital. Schwarzenegger is hoping states and provinces from more than 20 countries will launch a program that is intended to secure financing for carbon-cutting projects in both industrialized and developing nations.

>> Read the Full Article

Vice President Biden Launches Home Energy Scoring Program

U.S. Department of Energy

November 9, 2010

Also releases new workforce guidelines for home energy upgrades

WASHINGTON - Vice President Biden joined U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today to announce the launch of the Home Energy Score pilot program. The Home Energy Score will offer homeowners straightforward, reliable information about their homes' energy efficiency.  A report provides consumers with a home energy score between 1 and 10, and shows them how their home compares to others in their region. The report also includes customized, cost-effective recommendations that will help to reduce their energy costs and improve the comfort of their homes.

DOE today also released the Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, a comprehensive set of guidelines for workers in the residential energy efficiency industry. The guidelines will help develop and expand the skills of the workforce, ensuring the quality of the work performed, while laying the foundation for a more robust worker certification and training program nationwide.  Vice President Biden made the announcements today at a Middle Class Task Force event, highlighting the progress that has been made on implementing the recommendations of last year's Recovery through Retrofit report.

"The initiatives announced today are putting the Recovery Through Retrofit report's recommendations into action - giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades." said Vice President Biden. "Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy."

"The Home Energy Score will help make energy efficiency easy and accessible to America's families by providing them with straightforward and reliable information about their homes' energy performance and specific, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will save them money on their monthly energy bills," said Secretary Chu.

Under this voluntary program, trained and certified contractors will use a standardized assessment tool developed by DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to quickly evaluate a home and generate useful, actionable information for homeowners or prospective homebuyers.  With only about 40 inputs required, the Home Energy Scoring Tool lets a contractor evaluate a home's energy assets, like its heating and cooling systems, insulation levels and more, in generally less than an hour.  That means a homeowner can see how their home's systems score, regardless of whether a particular homeowner takes long or short showers or keeps their thermostat set high or low.

A score of "10" represents a home with excellent energy performance, while a "1" represents a home that will benefit from major energy upgrades.  Along with the score, the homeowner will receive a list of recommendations for home energy upgrades and other useful tips.  For each specific improvement, the estimated utility bill savings, payback period, and greenhouse gas emission reductions are included. To see a sample copy of the Home Energy Score and get more information on how it is calculated, visit  View an example PDF (702 kb) of a score and recommendations.

The Home Energy Score initially will be tested with local government, utility, and non-profit partners in ten pilot communities across the country, located in both urban and rural areas that cover a wide range of climates.  During this test phase, the Department and its partners will gauge how homeowners respond to the program, and whether the information encourages them to get energy improvements done on their homes.  After the pilot tests conclude in late spring 2011, DOE expects to launch the Home Energy Score nationally later next year, based on the findings from the initial programs.

The following states and municipalities are participating in the pilot program: Charlottesville, Virginia; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Minnesota; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Indiana; Portland, Oregon; South Carolina; Texas; and Eagle County, Colorado.  Learn more about each of the testing locations along with details on how to participate in the Home Energy Score program.

In addition to launching the Home Energy Score, the Department of Energy announced the release of the new Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades.  Energy improvement programs can adopt these guidelines to increase the consistency and effectiveness of energy upgrades, and training providers can use them to improve course curricula and training materials.  These guidelines were developed through a collaboration between energy efficiency contractors, building scientists, health and safety experts, technicians and trainers in the weatherization program, and other professionals in the building and home energy upgrade industry.

The Workforce Guidelines include standard work specifications required for high-quality work, a reference guide for technical standards and codes, analyses of the job tasks involved in completing various energy efficiency improvements, and the minimum qualifications workers should possess to perform high quality work.  Identifying the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform efficiency upgrades represents an important step in developing a nationwide framework for training program accreditation and worker certification.  The guidelines will be available for public comment through January 7, 2011.

Copyright © 2015 SEEC. All rights reserved. The Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC) is an alliance between the Local Government Commission, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the Institute for Local Government and California's four investor-owned utilities. This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company®, San Diego Gas & Electric Company®, Southern California Edison® and Southern California Gas Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

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