Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Benicia looks at ways to go green

Benicia looks at ways to go green
By JESSICA A. YORK/Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 11/19/2008

BENICIA -- Environmental green is the new black, even in small cities like Benicia.

In the wake of Assembly Bill 32, which requires targeted reductions in greenhouse gas emissions statewide, Benicia has begun taking action toward a self-sustainable or "greener" future.

On Tuesday night, Benicia City Council members discussed forming a commission committed to sustainability, environmental protection, public health and economic well-being. This group would be in addition to an existing "green team" of city department representatives that has begun work on more environmentally friendly internal city operations.

Discussion on the potential commission follows a greenhouse gas emissions inventory report and reduction targets made earlier this year. Those documents, on top of a climate action plan being designed for the city, have been funded by a San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District grant.

A climate action plan, which would be the first of its kind in Solano County, sets goals to reduce greenhouse emissions. The plans also provide the estimated greenhouse gas reduction and cost of each action, said city Assistant Planner Mike Marcus. Such plans have generally been conducted only by large cities with large funding, Marcus said.

"We're definitely showing some leadership to cities of our size across the state, and I'd say across the country," Marcus said.

While Benicia's strong commercial and industrial base helps secure the city's economic future, those types of companies produce large carbon emissions as well, Marcus said. The city's emission survey shows that 95 percent of carbon-based emissions come from commercial and industrial sources. About 20 percent of those are produced by port operator Amports and the Valero oil

Marcus said the survey revealed that 75 percent of commercial and industrial emissions come from other sources, and may be reducible by 2020.

The Climate Action Plan is being put together by a team of professors and students from the California Polytechnic State University. A workshop last week on the plan drew about 75 residents.

For more information on Benicia's environmental push, visit and the green "sustainability" tab at

E-mail Jessica A. York at or call 553-6834.