Categories
Federal Policy GHG Reduction NewsFlash

Greenwire Reports on White House Energy/Climate Czar Browner’s Resignation – Obama focus to shift toward economic policies

WHITE HOUSE: Browner’s resignation seen as the end of an era

Gabriel Nelson, E&E reporter

The departure of White House energy and climate czar Carol Browner could be a sign of a sea change in President Obama’s approach to energy issues, experts say, marking a shift from advancing new climate and energy programs to defending the economic value of the policies that his administration has put in place over its first two years.

Environmentalists are hoping the White House will move quickly to replace the “all-star quarterback of President Obama’s green dream team,” said Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy at the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund.

It is unclear whether President Obama will appoint someone to replace Browner or get rid of her office altogether, but recent moves suggest that the White House is starting to focus more on the economic value of his energy policies.

“Every administration has different lives to it. We’re entering the second life,” said Joshua Freed, director of the clean energy program at the centrist think tank Third Way. “That includes different people with different approaches. It also includes a different set of parameters of what’s possible. The key focus of the president right now, understandably, is economic growth.”

Browner, who led U.S. EPA under President Clinton, has been maligned by critics on the right for her work on the cap-and-trade bill that stalled in the Senate last year.

In recent months, Browner was rumored to be a candidate for the White House’s deputy chief of staff. But with climate legislation off the table and the resurgent Republicans in control of the House, she may have decided her job had run its course.

“Browner fought the good fight, but she represents the ‘regulate bad behaviors’ mindset that’s just not going to happen now,” Freed said. “The Obama administration is clearly taking the more optimistic path of investment as the catalyst for innovation.”

Browner has not said what she intends to do after leaving the White House. She told The Washington Post yesterday “it was just time to go,” adding that there was no backstory behind the decision.

Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, said he would not read Browner’s departure as a policy decision. But it could help the White House in its efforts to reset relationships with industry groups, he said.

“If you lay a lot of things on top of one another, you see an increasing sensitivity in the White House to the impact that environmental regulations can have,” Segal said. “I don’t think Carol Browner would disagree that she has not always been associated with regulatory flexibility.”

In recent weeks, Obama has gotten support from big business for a new plan to weed out wasteful regulations and to intensify the administration’s review of new rules. Cass Sunstein, who oversees the review of new rules at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is slated to testify on the initiative tomorrow before a subpanel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Meanwhile, the president has picked former banking executive William Daley as his new chief of staff, giving industry a forceful advocate in the White House. And on the rulemaking front, EPA asked for more time to review several sets of controversial rules.

“We’re hoping that there’s going to be an emphasis on what the president said, meaning that regulations are reasonable,” said Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.

“Carol Browner was very zealous in her views, maybe sometimes to the exclusion of considering the full picture, and we’re hoping that this means the whole big picture — jobs, the economy and health effects — are all going to be considered in the process.”

With another of the president’s key advisers gone, all eyes are looking to tonight’s State of the Union address for answers.

Environmental groups are hoping that Obama will reassert his commitment to environmental regulations, such as EPA’s climate rules. A little further down the road, it will be important to see how the president responds to Browner’s departure, Weiss said.

“For all we know, the White House may get rid of that office, which would be a very unfortunate signal, because it was very valuable to have her voice at the senior staff table,” Weiss said. “Hopefully, they will retain both the office and the stature of the person who sits there, but Carol Browner is going to be a very difficult act to follow.”

Categories
Environmental Justice NewsFlash Public Health Research

Forbes: “World’s Happiest Countries” Determined After Five Year Research Project

Similar to the “Quality of Life” metrics used in Growing Wealthier’s economic analysis of smart growth, Policy in Motion believes that we need to start framing transportation and land use planning and project priorities around factors that do not only consider environmental impacts and funding feasibility — rather we need to assess the full spectrum of social impacts from community design decisions  to include measures for our health and happiness.

Christopher Helman from Forbes highlights which countries are the “happiest” and why in the article below….

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Think about it for a minute: What does happiness mean to you?

For most, being happy starts with having enough money to do what you want and buy what you want. A nice home, food, clothes, car, leisure. All within reason.

But happiness is much more than money. It’s being healthy, free from pain, being able to take care of yourself. It’s having good times with friends and family.

Furthermore, happiness means being able to speak what’s on your mind without fear, to worship the God of your choosing, and to feel safe and secure in your own home.

Happiness means having opportunity — to get an education, to be an entrepreneur. What’s more satisfying than having a big idea and turning it into a thriving business, knowing all the way that the harder you work, the more reward you can expect?

With this in mind, five years ago researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London-based nonpartisan think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. But because “happy” carries too much of a touchy-feely connotation, they call it “prosperity.”

Legatum recently completed its 2010 Prosperity Index, which ranks 110 countries, covering 90 per cent of the world’s population.

To build its index Legatum gathers upward of a dozen international surveys done by the likes of the Gallup polling group, the Heritage Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Each country is ranked on 89 variables sorted into eight subsections: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.

The core conceit: Prosperity is complex; achieving it relies on a confluence of factors that build on each other in a virtuous circle.

“To use economic measurements alone to gauge the success of a nation would be equivalent to assessing the entire condition of a man simply by looking at his bank balance,” writes Peter Mandelson, former U.K. economic minister.

To that end, the inputs used to create the index are both objective and subjective: that’s because it’s not enough to know hard data like a country’s unemployment or inflation rates. It also matters how hard people think it is to find jobs, how convinced they are that hard work can bring success.

This can get complicated. In Nepal, for example, inflation is 11 per cent, unemployment 46 per cent. Yet a surprisingly high 50 per cent of the people say they are satisfied with their standard of living and 81 per cent have confidence in their banks. Could be they’re scared of voicing their true opinion in a shaky democracy, or maybe the Nepalese are just endemically happier people. Legatum adjusts for this, adding a variable called “ability to express political opinion without fear.”

What’s the most prosperous country in the world? Norway. What’s it got that the rest of the world doesn’t? The biggest bump comes from having the world’s highest per capita GDP of $53,000 a year. Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95 per cent say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74 per cent say other people can be trusted.

Cynics (particularly those leaving comments on Legatum’s excellent website) say Norway’s ranking is a fluke, that it’s a boring, godless (just 13 per cent go to church) homogeneous place to live with a massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes. Without massive offshore reserves of oil and gas that it exports to the world through state-controlled Statoil, Norway’s GDP would be far smaller.

And yet joining Norway in the top 10 prosperous countries are its Scandinavian sisters Denmark, Finland and Sweden, with equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands also in the club. None of these countries are blessed with great hoards of oil and gas.

So what gives? What do these prosperous European nations have in common that can somehow explain their prosperity? Being an electoral democracy is almost a given — of the top 25 most prosperous countries, only Singapore and Hong Kong aren’t.

Being small helps too. Big countries have so many disparate groups (ethnic, geographic, civic) vying against each other that it’s hard for true social cohesion and trust to emerge, and harder to maintain high levels of safety. Among countries with populations of more than 150 million, the United States ranks highest, at No. 10.

What else? They are all borderline socialist states, with generous welfare benefits and lots of redistribution of wealth. Yet they don’t let that socialism cross the line into autocracy. Civil liberties are abundant (consider decriminalized drugs and prostitution in the Netherlands). There are few restrictions on the flow of capital or of labor. Legatum’s scholars point out that Denmark, for example, has little job protection, but generous unemployment benefits. So business owners can keep the right number of workers, while workers can have a safety net while they muck around looking for that fulfilling job.

The importance of entrepreneurship

Of perhaps utmost importance, nearly all the nations in the top 10 are adept at fostering entrepreneurship and opportunity. Legatum’s researchers concluded that a country’s ranking in this area is the clearest proxy of its overall ranking in the index.

‘Entrepreneurial societies raise levels of expectation and produce a culture in which human potential is released.’—Alan McCormick, Legatum

This means low business startup costs, lots of cellphones, plenty of secure Internet servers, a history of high R&D spending and the perception that working hard gets you ahead.

That last bit — the perception that working hard pays off — is especially vital. Consider that Denmark and Sweden rank first and second in entrepreneurship and opportunity, but only 77 per cent of Swedes and 84 per cent of Danes think that working hard will get them ahead. Compare that with the U.S., the No. 3 country for entrepreneurship and opportunity. Fully 9 of 10 Americans think that hard work will pay off.

Perception matters. Alan McCormick, a managing director at Legatum, points out that the U.S. remains the envy of the world when it comes to entrepreneurialism, pointing out that during the recession year of 2009, Americans created 558,000 new businesses each month. That’s 27,000 more per month than in 2008 and 60,000 more per month than in 2007.

For countries that want to move up in the prosperity rankings, that care about improving the happiness of their people, one of the best ways may be to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture.

“Over the last three decades, new startups have accounted for nearly all of the increased employment in the American private sector,” says McCormick. “Entrepreneurial societies raise levels of expectation and produce a culture in which human potential is released, healthy risk-taking is encouraged, and where the fledgling business ideas of today become the global-selling products of tomorrow.”

Entrepreneurialism also gives a society a mechanism by which it can address and improve other aspects of the prosperity ecosystem. Want better education, health care or safety? Someone’s ready to sell it to you.

So what else does the U.S. have going for it? High levels of governance, education and freedom. But most surprising, Legatum gives the U.S. the top ranking in the world when it comes to health.

Huh? Didn’t the U.S. spend last year decrying the sorry state of an American health care system that had left 40 million uninsured? This doesn’t mean the U.S. has the best health care system, says McCormick, but $5,500 a year in per-capita health spending has resulted in excellent vaccination rates, water quality and sanitation.

Lacking: the U.S. scored just 62nd in feeling “well rested.” Compare that with China, which ranked 12th in being well rested.

That takes us back to our original question: What does happiness mean to you? Does being well rested fit into the equation? Maybe. But not if all that shuteye is because you don’t have a job to go to. Or if you have no choice but to rest because you don’t have access to real medical care. China ranks 66th in health, spending just $350 per capita per year.

Safety, security drag down China

Overall China is the 58th most prosperous nation in the world. Despite scoring well in economic measures, it’s dragged down by a rank of 92nd in safety and security and 102nd in personal freedom (just edging out Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe).

And the worst? Zimbabwe is the least prosperous country on Earth, followed by Pakistan, according to the study, with most of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa not much better. To be fair, some countries, like North Korea, are so far off the deep end that they don’t publish any data or let in pollsters to quiz their people.

How to improve their plight? Economic growth at all costs. Roger Bate, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that if you live in one of the poorest nations, a doubling of income from $3,000 to $6,000 per year will generate a lot more additional happiness than would a pay raise of the same amount, from $33,000 to $36,000, for a citizen of a prosperous country.

Ultimately how happy you are depends on how happy you’ve been. If you’re already rich, like Scandinavia, then more freedom, security and health would add the most to happiness. For the likes of China and India (ranked 88th), it’s more a case of “show me the money.” What they want most of all? The opportunity to prove to themselves that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2011/01/20/f-forbes-happy-countries.html#ixzz1ByXQElgR

Categories
California Policy High-Speed Rail NewsFlash Public Transit Transportation Funding

High-Speed Rail Commits $30 Million Investment to Southern California

SACRAMENTO – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has taken a major step forward in its work to build a truly statewide system with its announcement today that more than $30 million in federal funding will be set aside for property acquisition and railway development in the Los Angeles area.

The announcement follows several weeks of discussions with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which is the funding agent, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), which has been a planning partner with the CHSRA in Los Angeles County.

This money is included in the recent grant agreement with the FRA outlining the use of federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grant agreement also includes $500,000 each for station design in Merced and Bakersfield and $4.5 million total for station area planning in Fresno, Visalia/Kings, Bakersfield, Merced, Palmdale, Gilroy and San Jose, among others.

The specific use of the funds is still being determined. However, officials from both the CHSRA and Metro indicate that some of the funds dedicated to Southern California may be used to acquire the Los Angeles Union Station property – the region’s primary transportation hub, where three high-speed rail segments will converge.

Using the funds to acquire the L.A. Union Station site creates independent benefit for existing transportation entities in the region. An L.A. Union Station revamp would improve operations and service for Metro light rail, Amtrak, Metrolink and the Metro bus system. An L.A. Union Station revamp would improve operations and service for Metro light rail, Amtrak, Metrolink and the Metro bus system.

“Even as we plan to begin construction in the Central Valley – the backbone of a statewide system – we must also steer startup funding in urban areas like L.A. to ensure that regional agencies can begin to set the stage for the arrival of high-speed rail while also benefitting existing infrastructure,” said Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

“Metro is thrilled to learn of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s intent to invest newly acquired federal funds into Southern California,” said L.A County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Don Knabe. “Metro looks forward to working closely with the High-Speed Rail Authority to make the kind of investments that will be beneficial to both agencies as we build a 21st Century transportation network that will give L.A. County travelers a welcome alternative to traffic and rising gas prices.”

This infusion of funding will create immediate benefits in the Southern California region; however, the design and environmental impact review process being undertaken by the CHSRA is still underway. Design and environmental engineering teams have been engaged since 2007 with local communities and transportation agencies to design three segments in Southern California: Palmdale-Los Angeles, Los Angeles-Anaheim, and Los Angeles-San Diego, via the Inland Empire. That process is still underway, with Environmental Impact Reports yet to be released.

“This infusion of funds in Southern California is an exciting reminder of the benefits the high-speed rail project provides, even before construction is complete,” said Tom Umberg, vice chairman of the CHSRA Board. “In addition to creating a safe, efficient and fast alternative for travel within our state, we expect to create 600,000 construction-related jobs over the life of the project, and 450,000 new, permanent jobs once the entire system is built. There’s no question HSR will turn this initial investment into immediate benefits for the region and for the state.”

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is developing an 800-mile high-speed train system that will operate at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, connecting the state’s urban centers, including the Bay Area, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. The first phase of the project, projected to cost about $43 billion, will begin operation once the first operable segment (150-200 miles) is built, connecting the system to at least one major metropolitan center. The project is being funded through a voter-approved bond, public-private partnerships and federal grants.

California has already secured more than $3 billion in federal funding, the most of any state in the nation and a welcome step toward a long-term federal commitment. This incorporates grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as federal grants from other sources. Matched with varying levels of state funds, these dollars mean that more than $5.5 billion total is available to begin work on California’s high-speed rail system.

The federal grant agreement and other documents outlining the ARRA funds are available on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s website. Another grant agreement pertaining to the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program FY 2010 funds, also to be directed to the Central Valley, is forthcoming.

Categories
Education/Webinars GHG Reduction Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash Publications Research

New York Times Business Journalist Interviews “Growing Wealthier” Co-Author Steve Winkelman

New York Times

January 20, 2011, 11:02 AM

Growing Without Driving

By DAVID LEONHARDT
Image Source: Growing Wealthier, Center for Clean Air Policy, January 2011
VMT, in the chart (left), stands for “vehicle miles traveled.” So what changed in the early 1990s to cause the growth of driving to fall behind the growth of gross domestic product?

Was it simply that economic growth was so fast in the 1990s? Perhaps. But that doesn’t seem the most likely explanation. The gap between G.D.P. and miles driven continued to grow last decade, when economic growth was mediocre. And the rapid economic growth of the 1960s did not outpace the increase in driving.

The Center for Clean Air Policy — a Washington group that advocates for walkable cities, public transportation and other so-called smart growth policies — released the chart at a briefing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. I asked Steve Winkelman, the center’s director of transportation and adaptation programs, what he thought explained the divergence of economic growth and driving growth. Excerpts from his reply follow:

… a couple of months back I took a quick look at relative economic growth in sectors that I guessed were less travel intensive (data limitations hamper assessment of the VMT intensity of specific economic sectors). It is interesting note that from 1998-2008, knowledge- and service-oriented economic sectors such as information, finance, real estate and health care were responsible for more than two thirds of GDP growth, while extracting, manufacturing, transporting and selling physical goods generated less than one third of GDP growth over that period. In the previous decade, these more physically-intensive sectors contributed more than half of all GDP growth…

Transportation planners have been predicting saturation in travel for decades, for example once women fully penetrate the workforce. Perhaps that saturation is finally happening. The big demographic trends are aging of the baby boomers, increasing numbers of households without children and increasing proportion of minority and immigrant households, who typically have lower travel. We’ve also seen strong growth in transit ridership: up 38% percent since 1995, vs. population growth of 14% and highway VMT growth of 21%….

The jury is still out on the net impact of telecommuting and e-commerce on travel demand. While the number of telecommuters increased from about 3 million in 1993 to 6 million in 2008, that’s still only 4% of work trips, and work trips are only about a quarter of all VMT. In fact, VMT for work has decreased from 1969-2009, but shopping VMT almost quadrupled. So, while Amazon.com and Netflix are changing the way we’re shopping and entertaining ourselves, there’s a sense that the internet can both substitute trips but generate others….

The center’s report, arguing that building more roads is not the best way to produce more economic growth, is available on its Web site.

Categories
Federal Policy NewsFlash Transportation Funding

DC Streetsblog: New House Rules Threaten TIGER and Livability Programs

New House Rules Threaten TIGER and Livability Programs

by Tanya Snyder on January 7, 2011

TIGER, which funded projects like Atlanta's new streetcar, is in question after the passage of new House rules. Image: ##http://georgiatransitconnector.com/##Georgia Transit Connector##
TIGER Funded Atlanta Streetcar - Image: Georgia Transit Connector

As Streetsblog reported, the new House rules [PDF], passed along strict party lines with no defectors Wednesday, include a rule that allows lawmakers to spend out less than the full amount in the highway trust fund each year on transportation.

But there’s far more in the new rules that transportation advocates need to be aware of. For instance, it states that money could only be taken out of the highway trust fund for “those activities authorized for the highway or mass transit categories.”

At first blush, that sounds like a worthwhile firewall against raiding the trust fund for non-transportation purposes. But by specifying that the trust fund can only fund authorized programs, it excludes programs like TIGER and livability programs that were included in the 2008 stimulus bill but not in any authorization.

The House had allowed for $400 million for TIGER in the FY2011 budget (which never passed) and the Senate was looking to budget twice that. But if they can’t use highway trust fund money, those investments are in jeopardy – not to mention an additional $200 million for livability programs that advocates were hoping for.

“We had expected there may be attacks on these things in March” when budget talks begin again, Caron Whitaker of America Bikes told Streetsblog. “But they’re doing it all in one fell swoop.”

Another rule that has advocates worried is the expanded power for the chair of the Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to set spending ceilings. In the past, the ceiling set by the chair would then be voted on by the full House. No more.

Andy Clarke, director of the League of American Bicyclists, wrote this week that when transportation funding is uncertain, bike and pedestrian projects most often end up not getting funded. He noted the dip in bike/ped funding that happens each time the transportation bill is about to expire. “Is this a direct attack on bike/ped funding?” he wrote. “No. Does it make such an attack more likely – absolutely.”

Categories
California Policy GHG Reduction Publications SB 375 Transportation Funding

Center for Clean Air Policy finds Smart Growth = Economic Growth: “Growing Wealthier” to be released Jan 19th in Washington D.C.

As we begin 2011, California has just one thing on its mind: MONEY.  With the new Administration releasing what Governor Brown described as a “painful budget” in his January 3rd inauguration, there is no question that every policy action from the state to local level will somehow revolve around the very real economic problems that continue to face us this coming year.

Now more than ever it is imperative that we make strategic investments in our future.

The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) will be formally releasing a new publication January 19th in Washington, D.C. at an event hosted by Senator Carper (D-Delaware).  Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity challenges popular notions about driving and prosperity – considering standard economic indicators, livability, public health, community vibrancy, and resource sustainability.

The core of Growing Wealthier is a walk through ten smart growth principles to identify a variety of economic and prosperity benefits: Returns on Investment, Savings on Expenditures and Improved Quality of Life. Authors Chuck Kooshian and Steve Winkelman indicate who reaps the benefits – whether it be businesses, households, municipal governments, metropolitan regions or the nation as a whole.

Growing Wealthier discusses the concept of “empty miles” (i.e. portion of VMT not economically productive) and how strategically reducing daily driving by just two and half miles per person would result in more economically efficient communities.  The authors also discuss the national trend between GDP and VMT, citing the United States Chamber of Commerce’s analysis that the importance of travel as a component of the economy has been declining since the early 1990s, and is projected to decline through 2030.  The study also highlights how investments in transportation can be strategically focused around job creation – for example, that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act found that transit investments reaped nearly twice as many “job-months” as those for highways.

CCAP recommends a “Do. Measure. Learn.” policy framework centered on themes of action, measurement and analysis.  Growing Wealthier calls for enhanced technical assistance to equip and empower state and local practitioners to plan, implement and evaluate smart growth and travel efficiency policies and their economic impacts.

California has shown national leadership on measuring environmental impacts of transportation investments; however, we cannot afford to continue the business-as-usual planning and entitlement approach to the business-of-the-future we wish to create.  To achieve the legislative intent of California’s SB 375 we will need to take serious consideration of not only the environmental impacts but also the direct and indirect economic impacts of our planning and entitlements – whether at the state or local level.

Two reports were released in 2010 which began the conversation of incorporating the economics of smart growth.  The State of California’s Strategic Growth Council and High Speed Rail Authority released Vision California, which laid out that household expenditures are reduced under a “Growing Smarter” scenario at the statewide level.   The Urban Land Institute also released findings in a report called SB 375 Impact Analysis which highlights the quality of life benefits through more efficient municipal services and infrastructure investments.

Despite these report findings, there seems to be a lack of their integration into California policy implementation.  CCAP is hopeful, however, that perhaps the third time will be the charm with the upcoming release of their much anticipated Growing Wealthier and will be the tipping point that California policy makers and shakers truly need to make the case that we simply must make smarter investments in land use and transportation projects.

CCAP will also hold a webinar on Thursday, January 20th from 1:30-3:00pm (EST) to provide highlights on the report.

Visit www.growingwealthier.info to purchase a high-resolution bound copy of the report, or to download a free copy of the report available on January 19th.

California "Pre-Release" at Revolution Wines in Sacramento

Policy in Motion’s Lauren Michele hosted a California “Pre-Release” of Growing Wealthier.  CCAP Author, Chuck Kooshian, spoke to influential California policy makers on the economic benefits of smart growth.  Guests included political and organization leaders from California state, regional, and local governments — Jerry Walters, Anthony Eggert, Larry Greene, Joe Krovoza, Julia Lave Johnston, Mike McCoy, Heather Fargo, Mike McKeever, Nancy McKeever, and Judy Corbett joined in the celebration.

~~~

Find out what California policy leaders are endorsing as a 2011 “must-read” for transportation planning enthusiasts!

Growing Wealthier sheds important light on how smart growth policies can enhance prosperity and quality of life while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

– Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board

“CCAP is a strong, credible, influential voice on issues of transportation and climate change. This is another must-read report.”

Dan Sperling, Director, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis

“Kooshian and Winkelman make a clear and convincing case that as we develop our communities, doing the right thing for the climate can do the right thing for the economy.”

– Mike McKeever, Executive Director, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

Categories
California Policy GHG Reduction NewsFlash

E&E: California Insurance Firms To Offer “Pay As You Drive” to Reduce VMT, Improve Safety

Colin Sullivan, E&E Reporter

California has a new environmental regulation for just about everyone.

The grab bag of rules that took effect this week will — among other things — change the way Californians insure cars, buy light bulbs and build buildings.

Drivers for the first time can shop for “pay as you drive” insurance policies that will reward them for reducing the time they spend sitting in traffic. The first such policies, which are pegged to actual mileage audits, are now being offered by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and the Automobile Club of Southern California, with other companies expected to follow suit.

The idea behind the program, which was authorized by the state Legislature, is to reduce congestion and carbon output with a tool that some estimates say could cut vehicle miles traveled by as much as 9.5 percent. Accidents are also a factor, as a report by the Brookings Institution found that motorists who logged 5,000 miles a year had about half the number of bodily injury claims and less property damage claims than those who logged 30,000 miles a year.

Whether the program will be a success is anyone’s guess, but officials in Massachusetts and New York City recently announced they are eyeing PAYD initiatives following the onset of the products in California.

Attracting just as much attention are energy standards that effectively make California the first state to ban the 100-watt light bulb. The federal standards went into effect in California on Jan. 1, a year earlier than anywhere else under language written into the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The rule says new 100-watt bulbs have to use 28 percent less energy than a traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb. The California Energy Commission says the ability to implement the rule a year early will help the state avoid the sale of 10.5 million 100-watt incandescent bulbs in 2011, which would cost consumers $35.6 million in higher electricity bills, according to CEC data.

The rule doesn’t affect the existing supply of incandescent light bulbs stocked in retail stores or incandescent light bulbs already in use.

Elsewhere, construction companies are adapting this year to a new mandatory green building code that will apply to all jurisdictions statewide, affecting architects, interior designers, engineers, contractors, building departments and other building professions.

The program, called CALGreen, requires builders to: cut water use by 20 percent with better plumbing; divert construction waste away from landfills to recycling centers; closely inspect energy systems to make sure water heaters and air conditioners are working optimally; and use paints, carpeting and flooring from green manufacturers that cut down on volatile organic compounds in such materials.

While federal buildings are exempt, Dave Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission, recently said “99.9 percent of the buildings built in the state are regulated by these codes,” in an interview with Green Technology magazine.

Also going into effect are rules that would ban toxins such as cadmium in children’s jewelry and a program that would let offshore oil companies convert their drilling rigs into artificial reefs.

All in all, environmentalists see progress but said they are focused on much bigger policies, such as the state’s climate change law, A.B. 32, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

“Innovations like pay-as-you-drive insurance and more efficient light bulbs will save money and reduce pollution at the same time,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “But much more needs to be done to save energy, reduce vehicular pollution and protect consumers from toxic products.”

Sullivan reported from San Francisco.

Categories
Complete Streets Education/Webinars Public Health

CA Dept of Public Health Webinar: “Speed and Ped Safety” on Jan 27

What’s Speed Got to Do with It?

To register for this webinar, please click on the link below.  If you have not done so in the past, you will need to download the GoTo Webinar software.  Please register in advance as capacity is limited.

For questions please contact:

Karissa Anderson
PedSafe Program
California Department of Public Health
karissa.anderson@cdph.ca.gov


Join us for a Webinar on January 27
Please join us for a presentation and discussion on speeding and its relationship to pedestrian safety and injury.  Our featured speaker is Roberta McLaughlin, Senior Transportation Engineer with the Division of Traffic Operations at Caltrans.
Title: What’s Speed Got to Do with It?
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM PST
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/908725907
Categories
California Policy NewsFlash

SacBee: Governor-Elect Jerry Brown to be Sworn in Monday

Capitol Alert

December 31, 2010

By Torey Van Oot
tvanoot@sacbee.com

All eyes will be on Gov.-elect Jerry Brown Monday as the 72-year-old Democrat is sworn in for a third term as California’s chief executive.

That takes place at 11 a.m. at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium. The Brown transition team has said an undetermined number of seats will be available to the public, but so far has provided no other details. A reception is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the California Railroad museum. Watch this blog for additional details as they become available.

Brown won’t be the only constitutional officer taking the oath of office Monday. Here’s a rundown of when, where and by whom the other statewide officials elected Nov. 2 will be sworn in.

Controller John Chiang

Time: Approximately 9:30 a.m.
Place: Elks Tower Ballroom, 921 11th St., Sacramento
Officiating: Sacramento Superior Court Judge Russell L. Hom will administer the oath of office.
Reception: Chiang’s ceremony will kick off with a private reception at 8 a.m. sponsored by the Grace Initiative, a new nonprofit effort focused on providing financial literacy programs for low-income working families.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

Time: 9 a.m.
Place: The gymnasium of Concord’s Mount Diablo High School, where Torlakson taught before beginning his career in politics.
Officiating: Torlakson will be sworn in by Barbara Nemko, Napa County schools superintendent.
Reception: Torlakson will head to Sacramento to host an open house at the California Department of Education, 1430 N St., from 3 to 5 p.m.

Attorney General Kamala Harris

Time: 1 p.m.
Place: The swearing in will be private, at the California Museum For History, Women & The Arts, 1020 O St.Sacramento.
Officiating: To be determined.
Reception: A private reception will follow at the museum.

Treasurer Bill Lockyer

Time: 3 p.m.
Place: Capitol Rotunda
Officiating: Lockyer’s wife, Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, will administer the oath of office. Former Democratic Sen. Art Torres will emcee the event.
Reception: Lockyer hosts a private reception following the ceremony at the state Treasurer’s Office.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones

Time: 5 p.m.
Place: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento
Special guests: Controller John Chiang, a longtime friend and high school classmate, will emcee the ceremony. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will administer the oath of office.
Reception: A public reception follows the ceremony, lasting until 6:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, JAN. 4:

Secretary of State Debra Bowen

Time: 10 a.m.
Place: Secretary of State Office Building Auditorium, 1500 11th St.
Officiating: Attorney General Kamala Harris will administer the oath of office.
DELAY: Bowen’s staff said the elections chief opted to wait a day to be sworn in for her second term because of the already crowded schedule on Jan. 3.

LATER:

Lt. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will be in Sacramento to attend the swearing-in ceremonies for Gov.-elect Jerry Brown and other constitutional officers, but the San Franciscan won’t take the oath of office himself.

Newsom has scheduled an inaugural celebration for 1 p.m. on Jan. 10 in the Capitol Rotunda, though a spokesman said he could be sworn in sooner.

Constitutional officers are eligible to be sworn in as soon as the first Monday in January following the November election, though the term will not technically start until they take the oath of office.

Newsom’s decision is a political one, albeit local. By holding off on resigning as San Francisco mayor, Newsom will ensure the newly elected San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a more moderate bunch than the current board, selects the interim mayor to fill the remainder of his term there.

Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican Newsom defeated in the November election, will remain lieutenant governor until Newsom takes the oath of office, the secretary of state’s office said.