California Policy Federal Policy GHG Reduction NewsFlash

Journalists Mourn the Death of the Federal Climate Bill

I went ahead and titled this post in anticipation of there being a flurry of articles written on Senate Democrats pulling the plug on comprehensive climate change legislation — below are the first three I’ve seen in the last 45 minutes…..but first here’s my own take.

So what does this mean for California? The lack of federal support and direction as California tries to move forward with implementation of AB 32 and SB 375 in our own climate where Proposition 23 is gaining support to kill AB 32, a governor’s race could result in a moratorium on climate change implementation, possibility of major climate-related job loss worsens already shaky morale at the California Air Resources Board, an uncertain future for the State budget looms, and local governments have been forced to launch an “SOS” (save our services) campaign to restore funds that were raided by the same State that is “incentivizing” sustainable communities through the Strategic Growth Council.  With California’s maze of political and financial issues, the death of a comprehensive federal climate bill certainly does not help our efforts to engage the public and promote change here.  However, we should remember that it was the LACK of federal direction on climate change reform over the past decade that led California and 37 other states to develop Climate Action Plans.  The end of one effort should be taken as a signal to reassess political strategies and financial priorities, particularly in California where our goals have become greatly distanced from actual implementation success.  The lack of federal direction provides an excellent opportunity for the State of California to be forced into making creative and long-lasting changes in its funding structures and the land use/transportation and environmental processes that thread through the State’s transportation revenue system.  In any case, California needs to take action in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the same level of importance that was executed during the Clean Air Act in the 1970s, and regional/local governments need both financial and technical support to make substantive changes in land use planning today so that the compounding effects of GHG reduction can be realized for the State’s 2050 GHG goals.

More can be found on the California Trans&Climate Policy page and in Lauren Michele’s analysis of the implications of California’s existing regulatory frameworks as presented throughout Chapter 3 of the report: “Rethinking California’s Planning Frameworks to Support Senate Bill 375: A White Paper on Local, Regional, State and Federal Climate Change Policy Reform

Download PDF from Pew Center


E&E Daily — Thursday, July 22 —

Senate Democrats today pulled the plug on comprehensive climate change legislation with their decision to move forward with a limited Gulf spill response and energy package. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) admitted the obvious today — they do not have the 60 votes to pass climate legislation. Reid placed the blame squarely on Republicans despite the fact that the 59-member Democratic caucus was never unified on cap and trade to begin with.


Senate Democrats Abandon Comprehensive Climate Bill

By Perry Bacon Jr. — Washington Post Staff Writer — Thursday, July 22, 2010; 4:22 PM

Conceding they can’t find enough votes for the measure, Senate Democrats on Thursday abandoned efforts to put together a comprehensive energy bill that would seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions, delivering a potentially fatal blow to a proposal Democrats have long touted and President Obamacampaigned on.

Instead, Democrats will push for a more limited bill that would seek to increase liability costs that oil companies would pay following spills such as the onein the Gulf of Mexico and would create additional incentives for the development of natural gas vehicles and provide rebates to people who buy products that reduce home energy use. They did not release details of the proposal, but Senate Democrats said they expected to find GOP support and pass it in the next two weeks.

Democrats have not ruled out pushing for a more comprehensive bill when Congress returns from its August recess or in the session after the November elections, although it’s not clear that any of the Democrats or Republicans who now oppose a more expansive measure would change their votes. Republicans have long argued the bill, by seeking to limit emissions, would lead to higher energy costs for American consumers, a view some conservative Democrats have also taken.

The decision to abandon the proposal was another concession to the difficult political environment Democratic leaders face, as many rank and file congressional Democrats are wary of casting any vote that could be used in political attacks by Republicans.

Democrats who advocated the broader measure didn’t hide their disappointment in falling short. Carol Browner, who heads the White House’s Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said, “obviously everyone is disappointed,’ while Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the primary author of the comprehensive bill, said the legislation Democrats will take up next week is “admittedly narrow.”

“We now where we are. We know we don’t have the votes,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.)

Reid blamed the GOP for blocking the bill, noting that no Republicans in the Senate had said they would back the bill. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who had helped write the comprehensive measure with Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kerry, announced in June he would no longer back the measure, arguing Congress should pursue a smaller, more targeted measure.

But in truth, despite weeks of meetings to reach a compromise, Democrats themselves were deeply divided on the legislation.

Efforts to put together a major bill to limit carbon emissions and encourage the use of alternative energy sources had long been considered doomed in the Senate, even though the House approved last June a bill that would set a limit on overall emissions of greenhouse gases while allowing utilities and other emitters to trade pollution permits.

A group of Democrats whose states produce coal, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) thought the bill could lead to increased energy costs in their states, while others worried about pushing such a controversial political issue after Democrats had already passed the stimulus and health-care bills.

But following the Gulf oil spill, President Obama sought to push the public and Congress to back comprehensive approach, making the case that the accident illustrated the importance of the U.S. reducing its dependence on oil. In a speech last month in Pittsburgh, he said, “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.”

But in the weeks after the spill, Kerry, who had months ago stopped pushing the so-called cap and trade measure the House had passed, failed to win backing among his colleagues for a pared-back measure that would limit greenhouse gas emissions by electric utilities.

Kerry said Obama had pledged to stay involved and keep working for a broader bill, but the longtime senator’s remarks hinted at the challenge: he said it would pass “much sooner” than the decades it took his late colleague Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) to get comprehensive health care bill through Congress.

The decision by Democrats means that two major issues they had pledged to take on this year, energy reform and immigration, could remain unresolved before the midterm elections.


Democrats Pull Plug on Climate Bill

By: Darren Samuelsohn and Coral Davenport — July 22, 2010 01:01 PM EDT

Senate Democrats pulled the plug on climate legislation Thursday, pushing the issue off into an uncertain future ahead of midterm elections where President Barack Obama’s party is girding for a drubbing.

Rather than a long-awaited measure capping greenhouse gases — or even a more limited bill directed only at electric utilities — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will move forward next week on a bipartisan energy-only bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains other more popular energy items.

“It’s easy to count to 60,” Reid said. “I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don’t have the votes [for a bill capping emissions]. This is a step forward.”

“He’s anxious to get something done before we leave in August,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of Reid. “Given the time constraints, this probably is a realistic judgment on his part.”

“We don’t have the 60 votes,” said Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “So Sen. Reid’s a pragmatist. So rather than take us to a situation where we don’t have the votes, rather than do half-measures, let’s wait until we can get it done and get it right. So I think it’s a smart decision.”

The bill headed to the floor will not include a carbon cap or a renewable electricity standard, Bingaman said. Instead, it has low-hanging-fruit provisions dealing with the oil spill, Home Star energy efficiency upgrades, incentives for the conversion of trucking fleet to natural gas and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was visibly disappointed but said he isn’t giving up hope on getting “a decent bill” on climate within the next two weeks.

Still, he said, “the Republicans don’t want to cooperate on anything. On any of these major issues they vote no, and we’ve got to get some Republican votes because we don’t have unanimity in our caucus. So we’re still hoping they decide they want to govern instead of scoring political points.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) insisted that he, too, had hope for getting some kind of climate bill through the Senate in the next two weeks. He said he spoke with Obama Thursday and that the president had “committed to work at a more intensive pace” in the days ahead.

But the writing has been on the wall all week, with advocates lowering expectations in light of continued opposition from GOP senators and some moderate Democrats.

“I don’t believe an energy bill has ever passed off the floor in less than about three weeks,” Kerry said earlier Thursday during a town-hall style forum hosted by the Clean Energy Works, an umbrella advocacy organization that includes environmentalists, labor and religious groups. “The fact is this is a very complicated bill that has a lot of moving parts. I’m very realistic about that.”

“It’s not dying,” Kerry added. “It’s not going away…We’re going to try our best to find a way to do it in the next few weeks. If we can’t do it in the next weeks, we’ll do something that begins to do something responsibly in the short term. But this will stay out there, and we’ll be working on it; we’ll be asking you to talk to your senators and move them to understand why we have to get this done.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Kerry’s partner on the climate proposal, said he had no problem with Reid delaying debate on greenhouse gas caps. “If that’s the truth, it keeps the process open for negotiating a broader utilities-only bill in September,” he said.

Kerry and Lieberman are still working with the electric utility industry, including its lead trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, on a bill slicing its emissions around 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

But other Democrats have their doubts that Kerry and Lieberman will even get time for a floor debate after the August break, especially with Reid and other senators girding up for their own reelection bids.

“We’ve got very substantial constraints on our time when we get back,” Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico said Thursday.

“I don’t think there are going to be two energy packages on the floor this year,” said Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. “Whatever comes to the floor on energy is going to be the package we’re going to consider.”

Federal Policy GHG Reduction NewsFlash

Merkley, Carper, Tom Udall, and Bennet Introduce Oil Independence Bill for a Stronger America

Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act Will Eliminate Dependence on Overseas Oil by 2030 and Create National Council on Energy Security

July 15, 2010

Washington, D.C.
– U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Tom Carper, Tom Udall, and Michael Bennet introduced legislation today to achieve American oil independence, strengthen national security, and create jobs.  The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act will set into law the goal of achieving independence from overseas oil in the next 20 years and a specific plan for achieving it.  By committing America to developing a robust clean energy economy, the legislation would create new jobs while eliminating the national security vulnerability posed by dependence on oil from overseas to run the economy.

“America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East, Nigeria, and Venezuela makes us increasingly vulnerable to economic and national security risks,” Merkley said.  “American entrepreneurs and workers have the ingenuity and grit necessary to break this addiction to foreign oil – the challenge is whether politicians in Washington are willing to choose American strength over vulnerability.”

“I am proud to join Senator Merkley in introducing much needed legislation that sets an ambitious, but attainable, goal of eliminating all oil imports from outside of North America by 2030,” Carper said.  “The bill we are introducing today provides a comprehensive strategy to reduce oil consumption by improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of clean, renewable energy sources. Because transportation consumes 70 percent of our oil consumption, we need policies that will provide a cleaner, greener transportation fleet. That’s why I am pleased this bill takes important steps forward to increase vehicle efficiency standards and includes my CLEAN TEA legislation to provide Americans with a practical alternative to using their cars, trucks, and vans for every trip.  These are just two examples of the strategies contained in this bill that will help us end oil imports from outside North America by 2030. Senator Merkley, Tom Udall, and I will fight to include the Oil Independence for a Strong America Act of 2010 in upcoming energy legislation.”

“Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic, environmental and national security.  I am proud to join with Senators Merkley and Carper to introduce legislation that would help turn this global threat into a national opportunity,” Udall said.  “With our bill, we will take control of our energy future from special interests and foreign powers through the development of clean energy resources, by increasing energy efficiency, and by creating the jobs of the future here in the United States.”

To eliminate the nation’s reliance on foreign imports from non-North American countries by 2030, the bill includes steps to ramp up production and use of electric vehicles, increase travel options and improve infrastructure, develop alternative transportation fuels and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings.

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act also would create a National Council on Energy Security to ensure a sustained focus on reducing the use of oil.  The Council, housed in the White House, would be charged with making recommendations to the President and Congress to ensure America has a focused strategic plan for energy independence and with aligning the actions of various federal agencies.

This year, more than two-thirds of America’s oil imports will come from nations that too often do not share our goals or values.  This dependence on overseas oil costs our nation a billion dollars per day that could be used here at home.  It also prevents the United States from fully investing in home-grown American clean energy and undermines efforts to reduce pollution in our air and water.

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act would reduce oil consumption in the U.S. by over 8 million barrels per day by 2030, enough to end the need for oil imports from beyond North America.

Reducing oil consumption is the only way to break America’s national security and economic vulnerability to hostile countries and groups, geopolitical instability, and natural disasters posed by overseas oil.  Increasing domestic drilling will not solve the problem, since the United States only has 3 percent of oil reserves, yet uses 25 percent of all oil.  The Department of Energy has estimated that opening up offshore drilling on both coasts would only lower the price of gasoline by three cents per gallon by 2030.  Moreover, domestic drilling is not without risks, as the ongoing BP oil well catastrophe has shown.

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act will put into law the plan for American oil independence Senator Merkley laid out in June.  Details of the plan can be found here:

Education/Webinars Federal Policy NewsFlash Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

White House to Host Live Chat with Sustainable Communities Partnership on Thursday July 15

On Thursday, July 15th the White House Office of Urban Affairs will host a live chat with the leadership of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, anunprecedented agreement between HUD, Transportation, and EPA to coordinate federal housing, transportation, and environmental investments. A part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, the partnership, aims to break down traditional silos and craft federal programs and policies that take a more collaborative and holistic approach to better respond to the needs of communities.

Last month, the Partnership released a joint notice of funding availability (NOFA) – $35 million in TIGER II Planning grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge grants – for local planning activities that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development. And, HUD also announced $100 million in funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program that will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic development, and transportation.

We invite you to join us for a live discussion on Sustainable Communities – the progress they’ve made, the funding programs available, and what the future of the partnership looks like – at on July 15th at 2:00pm EST or you can submit questions in advance to Planetizen.

What: Sustainable Communities Live Chat

Who: Shelley Poticha, Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, HUD

Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy, Department of Transportation

Tim Torma, Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities, EPA

Moderated by Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy, White House

When: 2:00PM EST, Thursday, July 15, 2010

How: Watch and participate at

Send questions in advance to Planetizen.

For more information on the partnership, read their latest blog that summarizes their work and accomplishments.

GHG Reduction Local Government NewsFlash Research Transportation Funding US DOT

UC Davis Seeks Partnerships with Local Governments on HUD/DOT Grants

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Local Climate Policy for Transportation

The UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) aims to support the design and implementation of new land use and vehicle demand policies through research, education, and public outreach. The Center’s results-oriented research illuminates the relationship between land use, transportation, and the environment. Models and methods developed at ULTRANS will support the development of policies that encourage sustainable cities and regions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector can be addressed in three basic ways: reducing the carbon content of fuels, improving vehicle fuel economy, and changing individual travel and vehicle choices to be more climate-friendly. Local and regional climate policies focus on the third category of emission reduction strategies – encouraging behavioral change. In California, most local and regional governments are currently experimenting with programs to reduce the carbon footprint of their communities, in response to state policy established in Senate Bill 375 in 2008. However, rigorous evaluation of program effectiveness remains uncommon. This project aims to help change this situation.

Program evaluation studies are commonplace in many fields of applied research, especially when behavioral change is the program goal. These studies are designed to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programs in achieving measurable goals. Often, program evaluation studies are done during a pilot or demonstration phase of the program so that the research results can be used to fine tune the program before it is expanded to apply to a larger population.

ULTRANS aims to conduct pilot evaluations of the effect of programs in each of the above categories on greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers will then use these program evaluation experiences to develop standard methodologies that practitioners across the nation can use to evaluate the performance of their own programs. To accomplish this, ULTRANS is looking to partner with local governments that are currently implementing programs in each of the following categories.

The universe of local climate policies that address transport sector emissions can be divided into six categories:

  1. Encouraging “smart growth” land use to bring origins and destinations closer to each other, e.g. infill projects, strip mall redevelopment projects;
  2. Restricting parking through fees and/or supply changes, e.g. downtown parking meters, satellite parking facilities;
  3. Encouraging alternative modes (including carpools) by making them cheaper, safer, faster, and more convenient, e.g. real-time information at bus stops, bicycle boulevards;
  4. Restricting driving through pricing and/or supply changes, e.g. reduced speed limits, selected road “diets”;
  5. Implementing “soft measures” that utilize social norms and peer pressure to achieve behavior change; and
  6. Encouraging the use of lower carbon technologies, both fuel efficient vehicles and low-carbon fuels, e.g. targeted rebates, preferential parking.

Please contact the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center via email if you are interested in collaborating on this initiative:

Deborah Salon, Research Economist –

Susan Handy, Professor – [out of office until July 19]

Education/Webinars Local Government Publications SB 375

California Institute for Local Government Resources

Funded in part by the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities, the Institute for Local Government‘s mission is to “promote good government at the local level by promoting well-informed, ethical, inclusive, effective and responsive local government in California through innovative resources, tools and programs.

Recent Publications Include:

    Federal Policy GHG Reduction Local Government Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

    $748 Million in Federal Grants Available for Sustainable Communities

    The Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities integrates efforts across US DOT, EPA and HUD — including the release of a Notice of Funding Availability for cities, counties, MPOs, and transportation agencies to apply for sustainable community planning grants emphasizing performance outcomes from integrated land use and transportation plans.  Grant proposals are due on July 26 and August 23 and applicant registration must be submitted by July 16.

    Read more and view the Federal Grant Flow Chart and Matrix at the links below:

    Policy in Motion is offering a “Sustainable Community Grant Navigation” package to assist local governments in optimizing successful grant submissions for both the five federal grant opportunities totaling $748 million, and the California Proposition 84 grant awards totaling $22 million this cycle.

    Consultancy services for the Navigation package include:

    1. overview of how federal and California policy direction ties into the scoring criteria for federal and California planning grants, and
    2. custom consultation for applicant on which grants to pursue and how to prepare grant materials through strategic planning submissions.

    For more information contact Lauren Michele at  Lauren Michele is also an editor for Fehr and Peers’ climate change blog,, and recently posted an article detailing four federal grant opportunities for sustainable communities planning.

      California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash SB 375

      CA Air Resources Board Releases Draft SB 375 GHG Targets for MPOs

      ARB staff has released its draft regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for automobiles and light trucks pursuant to Senate Bill 375.

      Full report can be found here.

      The table below is a Policy in Motion synthesis of both MPOs’ and ARB’s proposed GHG reduction targets presented over the past month.  More synthesis available at the “California MPOs Reveal Results of SB 375 Soul-Searching” post linked here.

      Federal Policy NewsFlash Public Transit

      Senate Banking Committee Marks Up Bipartisan “Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010”

      DOT 127-10
      Tuesday, June 29, 2010
      Contact: Paul Griffo
      Tel: 202-366-4064

      U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Commends Senate Banking Committee for Unanimous Vote Adopting Historic Transit Safety Legislation
      Senate Banking Committee Marks Up Bipartisan ‘Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010”

      U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today commended the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee for reporting out the Obama Administration’s transit safety bill, the first transit-specific safety bill ever sent to Congress by any administration, by a unanimous vote.  The bill now goes to the Senate floor.

      Secretary LaHood applauded Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Ranking Member Richard Shelby and Subcommittee Chairman Robert Menendez for taking the first major step in passing the Administration’s Public Transportation Safety Act of 2010, a bill that would end the current prohibition against the Federal Transit Administration from directly overseeing safety programs.

      Secretary LaHood sent the Administration bill to Congress in December 2009.

      “I want to thank the Banking Committee for working together to move this historic legislation forward,” said Secretary LaHood.  “Safety is the Department of Transportation’s number one priority and we look forward to working with the full Senate and House to get this bill passed and signed into law.”

      “Today’s milestone is the first major step in untying the hands of the Federal Transit Administration and allowing us to implement national safety standards,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.  “While transit is a safe way to travel, we still see too many preventable accidents, including fatal accidents.  We need these tools to ensure that transit remains safe as our systems age and experienced employees retire in increasing numbers.”

      The legislation, if passed, will authorize the Department of Transportation to establish federal safety standards for rail transit systems, reversing a prohibition that has been in effect since 1965.

      In addition to this bill, Secretary LaHood announced the formation of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) on June 23 of this year. The 20 individuals who will initially serve on TRACS represent all geographic regions in the U.S. and include experts from state transit agencies of all sizes, state safety oversight organizations, labor unions, and industry associations.

      The recommendations of TRACS will help FTA develop new policies and practices and, should FTA be given authority to promulgate new transit safety requirements, new regulations for enhancing rail transit safety.

      GHG Reduction Local Government NewsFlash Transportation Funding

      HUD Announces $100 Million Available Under New Sustainable Regional Planning Grant Program

      HUD No. 10-133
      Andrea Mead
      (202) 708-0685
      June 24, 2010


      Announcement comes during speech to The Atlantic’s Future of the City Forum

      WASHINGTON – During a keynote address to The Atlantic’s inaugural Future of the City Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation and building a clean energy economy.

      The Regional Planning grants will be awarded competitively to multi-jurisdictional and multi-sector partnerships as well as regional consortia consisting of state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations. The funding was approved by Congress for the first time in HUD’s 2010 budget, as part of a $200 million fund for the agency’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. To read the full text of HUD’s funding announcement, visit HUD’s Sustainability website.

      “At HUD, and across the Administration, we believe that the “future of the city” is tied to the future of the region-the cities, suburbs and rural areas that surround them, and that America’s ability to compete and create jobs in the 21st century depends on our metro regions,” said Donovan. “That is why I am proud to say we are taking another big step forward in the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage more sustainable development as I announce $100 million for our new Sustainable Regional Planning Grant program for regions to integrate economic development, land use, and transportation investments.”

      “The Sustainable Communities Partnership is one part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, which aims to break down traditional silos and ensure that federal programs and policies across all agencies better respond to the unique needs of specific communities,” said Melody Barnes, President Obama’s Domestic Policy Adviser. “The Administration’s efforts aim to develop urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.”

      The funding being announced today will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic competitiveness and revitalization; social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; energy use and climate change; as well as public health and environmental impacts. The program places a priority on partnerships, including nontraditional partnerships including arts and culture, philanthropy, and bringing new voices to the regional planning process.

      The program will support a number of activities related to the development and implementation of integrated long-range regional plans including, but not limited to:

      • identifying affordable housing, transportation investment, water infrastructure, economic development, land use planning, environmental conservation, energy system, open space, and other infrastructure priorities for the region;
      • establishing performance goals and measures;
      • providing detailed plans, policies, and implementation strategies to be implemented by all participating jurisdictions over time to meet planning goals;
      • engaging residents and stakeholders substantively and meaningfully in the development of the shared vision and its implementation.

      The program builds on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Guided by six Livability Principles, the Partnership is designed to remove the traditional silos that exist between federal departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.

      Recognizing that areas are in different stages of achieving sustainability, HUD established two funding categories for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. Category 1 Funds can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development. Category 2 Funds can be used to support efforts to fine-tune existing regional plans so that they address the Partnership’s Livability Principles, to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and limited predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects. Of the funds available, $2 million will be reserved for capacity support grants distributed separately, and not less than $25 million will be awarded to regions with populations of less than 500,000.

      Ultimately, this regional planning initiative will provide a blueprint for public and private investment decisions that will support a more sustainable future for a region. The size of grants awarded will be determined by the size of the applicants geographic area, whether a large metropolitan region or a smaller rural community. Grant applications, which will be reviewed not only by HUD, but also by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, are due August 23, 2010.

      To demonstrate HUD’s commitment to listening and learning, HUD issued an advance Notice of Funding Availability in February 2010, which was posted on the Federal Register for 21 days for public comment and feedback. Many of the comments received through that process where integrated into the final Notice.

      In addition, Secretary Donovan and HUD are committed to providing the highest level of transparency possible as the Office of Sustainable Communities works to streamline federal investments. HUD’s new sustainability website will allow tax payers to see where funds are being spent and hold federal leaders accountable, and for local partners to access valuable information and resources.


      HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and

      California Policy GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash Public Transit Publications SB 375

      State of California Releases “Vision California” Report, Puts Price on CA’s SB 375

      The State of California Strategic Growth Council is releasing the results today of “Vision California,” a study funded in part by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to project the costs and benefits of the growth and transportation decisions that are being made under two scenarios: Business-As-Usual and Growing Smart.  The report does a good job putting a dollar value on land use choices and summarizing the potential effects of policy changes. “Vision California: Charting Our Future,” assesses the economic, energy, health, and land impacts on a population expected to reach 60 million by 2050.

      The report finds a per household savings of $6,400/year from automobile and utility costs.  The “Growing Smarter” scenario yields a per household VMT reduction for a 2050 horizon year of 26%  from a 2005 baseline and 30% from the “Business as Usual” scenario.  These results seem consistent with a major “meta-analysis” conducted by the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center’s, which found a range of 20 to 40 percent VMT/capita reduction from compact development based on existing literature ranges.

      For a copy of the full report, visit: