By William Fulton, October 30, 2013
After a 30-odd-year delay, the Governor’s Office of Planning &
Research has released a working draft of the Environmental Goals &
Policies Report – a document that OPR is supposed to produce every four
Titled, “California’s Climate Future,”
the draft is a high-level document laying out overall policy goals,
focusing especially on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions
reductions. It’s the first time an EGPR draft has been released in 35
years – since the last time Jerry Brown was governor, when OPR released
the “Urban Strategy for California”. The new document focuses on the
prospect of California with a population of 50 million as well as the
stresses of climate change.
But the draft shows how difficult it is to set hard metrics in the
world of land use and transportation compared to the world of energy
The EGPR also sets an ambitious goal for greenhouse gas emissions
reduction: 80% by 2050, the same figure that was included in Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s 2005 Executive Order. There is no state statute
containing that goal – the only statutory goal is a reduction to 1990
levels by 2020, contained in AB 32 – although litigation against the
sustainable communities strategy in San Diego has successfully used the
Executive Order’s target as a de-facto state goal.
The EGPR contains specific sub-goals for energy conservation, but
only general descriptions of desirable goals and metrics regarding land
The proposed EGPR is organized around six high-level goals:
A strong economy
Thriving urban areas
Prosperous rural regions
A clean environment
Clean and efficient energy system
Efficient and sound infrastructure
This is fine rhetoric – and not surprising – but the EGPR also seeks
to set up a series of metrics that would measure the state’s progress
toward the goal. The metrics call into five categories:
1. Decarbonize the State’s Energy and Transportation Systems
2. Preserve and Steward the State’s Lands and Natural Resources
3. Build Sustainable Regions that Support Healthy, Livable Communities
4. Build Climate Resilience into All Policies
5. Improve Coordination Between Agencies and Improve Data Availability
Each of these five areas of measurement contain a set of more
specific targets. For example, the “decarbonize” goal calls for a 33%
renewable energy generation by 2020 (already a state law) and 1.5
zero-emission vehicles by 2025.
Targets #2 and #3 above – natural land and sustainable communities –
have a direct impact on the planning and development world in
California. But the metrics in these areas contained in the EGPR are not
as quantitative as those for the energy sector.
In the case of natural and agricultural lands, the proposed metrics are:
1. Land conversion
2. Land protection status
3. Water consumption
4. Use of recycled and reclaimed water
5. Bioenergy development and use
Though the draft EGPR includes some information about the state’s
measurement of conversation of agricultural and natural land for
development, it does not include or propose specific metrics.
Similarly, Target #3 -- Build Sustainable Regions that Support
Healthy and Livable Communities – includes some broad discussion of
possible metrics but not a whole lot of specifics in the way of metrics.
This target contains four specific goals, including environmentally
sensitive infrastructure investment; a transportation investment
strategy that focuses on walking, biking, and safe routes to school; and
better education and workforce training.
Perhaps the most interesting specific goal under Target 3 is “Build a
redevelopment program that allocates funds in alignment with
environmental goals as evidenced through some of the following
activities”. At first glance, one might think that this is pretty
earth-shattering: The Brown Administration is endorsing a new
“redevelopment program”. But because it’s a high-level document, it’s
short on specifics. As possible strategies it lays out the following
1. Alignment of local General Plan with regional sustainable communities strategy (where ?applicable).
2. Coordination with school districts on long-term planning issues.
3. Natural resource protection plans that reflect long-term environmental goals.
4. Adoption of climate change or sustainability plans that address
emission reduction as well as steps to build climate resilience.
5. Develop plans to help communities manage planned retreat from rising sea levels.
And it contains no specific proposals for metrics that would suggest how to measure progress toward these goals or targets.
The EGPR was required as a result of a law carried by
then-Assemblyman Pete Wilson in the early 1970s. Since Brown’s 1978
“Urban Strategy,” no governor has released an EGPR, though both the
administrations of Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger worked on drafts
that floated around Sacramento.
The 1978 Urban Strategy was
similarly lofty to the current draft in its goals and aspirations, but –
unlike the current draft – it did contain a detailed “action plan” of
specific steps the state should take. Among the proposed actions: A CEQA
exemption for housing in infill locations.