While Arnold is trying to slowly deconstruct California’s environmental regulations, there is still progress in the right direction. In fact, just last week, I was reminded of the changes to come.
Locally here in California, all sides came to an agreement via a court settlement on how to handle the widening of Highway 50 near Sacramento. The widening will be used to add an HOV lane, but the settlement provides what should be a model for moving forward on road projects. Namely, it includes a provision requiring CalTrans to help fund the building of an additional light rail line between Sacramento and Folsom along Highway 50.
The project would increase the availability of green transit options and is expected to significantly increase ridership, and improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the light rail system. Not a bad start for a local change.
But California leads on big ideas as well, and Rep. Pete Stark is nothing if not a bold thinker. Last week he introduced the Save Our Climate Act, a carbon tax bill. The bill focuses on high carbon emitting fuels. A quick synopsis of the bill:
The Save Our Climate Act imposes an initial tax of $10 per ton of carbon content on fossil fuels when they are initially removed from the ground or imported into the United States, resulting in approximately a 2 cents per gallon increase. The tax will increase by $10 each year, freezing when a mandated report by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Energy determines that carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 80 percent from 1990 levels. The 80 percent level is the reduction estimated by the International Panel on Climate Change to be necessary to prevent the catastrophic consequences anticipated from rapid climate change.
While some speak of being green, and are transformed by the media into some sort of green icon, others are actually working towards making change happen. California is looking into the barrel of the gun on climate change. We already face the specter of mass water rationing unless we get a great deal of snow in the Sierras, and there is no silver bullet to our water issues.
Increased public transit and carbon taxes are both important solutions for climate change. Hopefully both of these plans will be acted upon soon.