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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Chapter Chair's Column
General Plan Update does not adequately address greenhouse gas emissions
June 2009

After nearly a decade of attempting to update the General Plan for Monterey County, the Planning Commission has agreed to hold a series of workshops during its regular sessions to discuss the environmental impacts in the DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact Report) for the current version, GPU 5. The next three workshops are currently scheduled for June 10, June 24, and July 8. Please check the chapter website (www.ventana.sierraclub.org) for final dates, times, and venue.

The topics proposed for review are greenhouse gases (GHG), biological resources, and post 2030 growth impact policies. Chapter members have already contacted the County with concerns regarding GPU 5 and the DEIR. We believe that the Plan does not adequately address climate change, a Sierra Club priority, and even lacks a section on greenhouse gases. There is only a single provision in the Plan that addresses climate change (Section 4, Policy OS-10-11), and that section is insufficient. This policy simply requires “development of a detailed GHG inventory and adoption of a GHG reduction plan” yet contains no provisions for establishing County GHG reduction goals or for developing measures to adhere to those goals.

The passage of AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) provides for a statewide GHG emissions cap for 2020. Every county must contribute towards these state-mandated objectives, and GPU 5 does not reflect this requirement.

Another weakness of the current update is its lack of adequate protection for various at-risk habitats in Monterey County. Such habitats include riparian areas, steep slopes, grasslands, and coast live oak and blue oak woodlands. The cumulative impacts on the biological disruption and destruction of these valuable habitats and the special species they support have not been adequately addressed or analyzed.

Additional information for all of these environmental issues should be developed and added to the DEIR. The DEIR should then be recirculated for public review and comment. Please consider attending the Planning Commission workshops and participating in this important process so critical to the future of Monterey County.

—Rita Dalessio



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