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Plant more trees, use less water
Manteca reviewing plan to reduce greenhouse gases
air quaulkity 2
A La Jolla example of high density mixed used development similar to the one being encouraged by Mantecas climate action plan and whats envisioned for Austin Road Business Park in Manteca and River Islands at Lathrop. - photo by Rendering contributed

Manteca is mandated by state law to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

That is going to require the private and public sectors to use less water, plant more trees, install more solar systems, the use of more roundabouts for traffic control, higher development densities, and ditching cars whenever possible.

Those local strategies and others are part are being considered for adoption as part of the City of Manteca’s Climate Action Plan before the Planning Commission. The planners meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The strategies are designed to reduce greenhouse emissions that include carbon dioxide, methane gas, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorcarbons.

It is in response to the state mandated Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that requires municipalities to target greenhouse emissions and reduce them back to 1990 levels.

That is in addition to new federal Environmental Protection Agency mandates to further reduce emissions in the San Joaquin Valley by nearly 90 percent. The state greenhouse mandate includes all of California while the new federal EPA standards are just for the San Joaquin Valley.

Manteca as a whole generated 408,869 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2010. That figure reflects pollution  created for both residential and commercial use of elasticity of natural gas as well as disposing of waste and ozone depleting substances such as chemicals used in cooling systems.

If nothing is done, Manteca based on current population growth tends is expected to generate 548,437 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2020 and 742,186 tons in 2035.

The plan being reviewed by the commission was cobbled together by San Ramon-based Michael Broadman Associates. The report calculates the city will be able to reduce per  capita carbon dioxide equivalents from 6.1 tons per person to 5.0 tons by 2010 and 4.5 tons by 2035.

That reflects not only city strategies but also state mandates involving vehicle emissions and pollution from other sources including how homes and buildings are constructed.

Water use impacts air pollution due to energy required to pump from underground wells and to treat both surface and well water.

Trees based on their ability to reduce  heat and the need for air conditioning as well as consume carbon dioxide are considered a key component of the plan. The tree strategy calls for planting more trees as well as trees that have large canopies along streets as well as encouraging greater use of them in residential and commercial landscaping.

Roundabouts and bulb outs are favored as they provide passive traffic control without forcing vehicles to come to a stop and then start again. They also make it safer and more pleasant for pedestrians to cross streets.

As far as encouraging more walking and bicycling, the climate plan calls for higher residential densities as well as preserving the downtown district. Part of that strategy is encouraging the mixed use buildings with retail on the ground  floor and residential above. A section of the Austin Road Business Park is envisioned for  such development as is the tow square at River islands at Lathrop.

At the same time rules limiting residential development either based on  height are reworking other planning rules need to be re-examined in a bid to encourage investment into higher density development.

Federal standards

impossible to meet?

While Manteca and other jurisdictions are working to comply with the state mandates, meeting the federal requirements for air quality imposed on the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin is proving to be dicey at best.

Based on the annual report issued May by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s annual Report to the Community :

*Exceedances of the one-hour ozone standard continue to decline, from more than 50 in 2002 to just two in 2012.

•Ozone (smog) exceedances for the 1997 and 2008 8-hour standard have dropped by 55 percent and 34 percent, respectively, since 1992.

The district formed in 1992 acknowledges there is more work that needs to be done. At the same time, though, the annual report stressed a need to “see common-sense changes to the Federal Clean Air act.”

“Our experience shows that many well-intentioned provisions are leading to unintended adverse consequences,” the report states. “The antiquated provisions of the Clean Air act are now leading to confusion, and lack of an updated congressional directive has rendered courts as policy makers.”

The district staff and governing board have reached a point where the failure of Washington, D.C., to take administrative and legislative action to update the Clean Air act is leading to the following:

•Chaotic and confusing transition to new standards.

•Standards and deadlines that are impossible to meet.

• Costly litigation leading to delays and confusion.

•Enormous administrative costs to state and local governments without any corresponding benefit to air quality.

•Enormous red-tape costs to businesses and individuals without any corresponding benefit to air quality.

One example of how standards are impossible to to meet centers around nitrogen oxides.

The valley averages 625 tons of nitrogen oxides being released in the air on any given day. The new standard is to get it to 80 tons a day or less.

Heavy duty trucks account for about 250 tons daily. Passenger vehicles and off-road equipment each account for about 80 tons while off-road equipment is about another 70 tons. Other off-road sources such as trains account for around 30 tons. The balances — or nearly 120 tons — are from stationary and area sources that the district has control over establishing rules. Mobile sources generate 500 tons a day and are under state and federal regulations.

In short, you could stop all truck and vehicle traffic, suspend all train service, and idle all off-road and farm equipment and still not meet Environmental Protection Agency mandates.