The other shoe has dropped on the SB 375 front, as the California Air Resources Board has more than doubled the target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions to be obtained through regional planning.

This new target -- 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year – was released on October 15 as part of CARB's "Proposed Scoping Plan" for AB 32. That's up from 2 million tons in the Draft Scoping Plan released in June.

This target will put a lot more pressure on regional planning agencies to create compact land use plans that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled. But it may also put more pressure on local governments to reduce emissions from their operations and other sources. The draft plan in June apparently combined land use and local government operations within the 2 million tons. The recently released proposed plan separates them out – requiring 5 million tons out of land use and a 15% reduction from local government operations.

Under SB 375, CARB must take the 5-million-ton target and dole it out to the regions by 2010. Then each regional planning agency must devise a "sustainable communities strategy" that lays out a growth scenario that will meet the target. Transportation projects must conform to this strategy. Local plans don't have to conform to this strategy, but individual projects that do conform might qualify for streamlining or even exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act.

-- Bill Fulton