August 22, 2007

County works out strategy on global warming

Attorney general drops lawsuit after supervisors approve plan to reduce emissions as San Bernardino County grows

Redlands Daily Facts [Redlands, CA]

Before even having to enter a courtroom, San Bernardino County has settled a lawsuit that alleges the county is not doing enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which are a cause of global warming.

According to Attorney General Jerry Brown, who brought the case against the county in April, the county's General Plan didn't properly address greenhouse gas reductions. The plan is an estimate of where houses, businesses and open space will be over the next 25 years.

The agreement, which states that officials will measure how much the county contributes to global warming and sets goals to begin cutting pollution, was reached by four county supervisors during a meeting held Tuesday morning.

"I thought it was irresponsible of the attorney general to sue the county" said 3rd District Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, who represents Redlands. "But because we've done so much to address the issue already, it was fairly easy to reach a settlement."

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt voted against working out an agreement. In a statement, he said he found the attorney general's lawsuit to be "contrary to California's separation of powers, where laws are adopted by the legislature."

Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, was also none too pleased with the settlement.

"I'm glad the county and attorney general were able to reach a compromise without having to go to court," he said in a statement. "However, I can't think of a more ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars when the state files a lawsuit against a county, especially when the issues could have been solved with a telephone call."

Brown announced the deal during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon, and said that the county will have 30 months to amend its General Plan to include a greenhouse gas-reduction policy. It will also have to compile an inventory of emission levels from 1990 and project estimated emissions in 2020.

"This landmark agreement establishes one of the first greenhouse gas reduction plans in California," said Brown. "It is a model that I encourage other cities and countries to adopt."

San Bernardino County is not alone in disappointing Brown; he also wrote letters to San Diego and Orange counties, urging them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.