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Sonoma County gets greenhouse-gas 'clearing house'

New legislation gives the Sonoma County Transportation Authority new powers to coordinate greenhouse gas emission reduction programs, expanding the agency?s reach beyond the region?s highways and bridges.

Suzanne Smith, executive director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, said Monday that the bill, AB 881 signed by the governor on Sunday, designates the agency as a clearing house for coordinating programs such as those promoting renewable energy, insulating buildings, energy efficient appliances, installation of electric vehicle charging stations, encouraging businesses to telecommute and workers to use public transit.

?It seems reasonable and logical that climate change coordination land in one central clearing house to keep track of funding sources, programs and applications for funds,? Smith said.

Legislation by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, allows the Board of Supervisors to create a Regional Climate Protection Authority, which supervisors have indicated will be the Transportation Authority.

Supervisor and Transportation Authority board member Mike Kerns said that, with the centralized climate protection office, ?we will be better coordinated and better able to implement key projects and programs at the necessary scale to make real impacts.?

Huffman said this will be the first local climate control authority in the state.

The Transportation Authority is governed by a board that has representatives from the county and its nine cities, from the county Water Agency and from the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

Huffman said the ability of ?local governments to address climate change with a synchronized approach? will be key to the goal of, by 2015, achieving a 25 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels.

Smith said the Transportation Authority will contract with Dave Brennan, consultant and former Sebastopol city manager, to provide most of the program coordination.


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