Local ordinance to reduce diesel emissions aims to satisfy settlement

Legal News Line Aug. 22, 2008, 12:00pm

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-In an attempt to comply with terms of a 2007 settlement with California Attorney General Jerry Brown, San Bernardino County is considering an ordinance that would require contractors to reduce diesel-engine exhaust emissions.

The county planning commission approved the ordinance at its regular meeting Thursday, and will recommend the ordinance's final approval by the Board of Supervisors.

The proposed ordinance focuses on diesel exhaust emissions.

If passed, vehicles and off-road equipment would not be allowed to idle for more than five minutes, cannot be used at all during second-stage smog alerts, would require contractors to use reformulated low-sulfur diesel fuel. Catalytic converters would be required on all gas-fueled equipment.

Under the proposed ordinance, developers must ensure that contractors maintain equipment in good working order, substitute electric or gas powered equipment for diesel in some circumstances and provide on-site electrical connections.

Brown sued the county in April 2007 when it adopted a general plan that the attorney general claimed would worsen global warming.

The county then settled with Brown, agreeing to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In seeking to satisfy the terms of the settlement, the county hired a consulting firm to work on the problem. The firm will measure greenhouse gas emissions and recommend strategies to improve them.

San Bernardino County Land Use Services Director Julie Rynerson Rock told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the Board of Supervisors will consider the recommendation from the county planners at a meeting next month.

The county's Web site now has a section entitled "Green County San Bernardino" that touts the city's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a series of initiatives that focus on promoting environmental building standards.

"The decisions we make as residents," the Web site states, "businesses, governments and builders impact our world, our communities and our health. When we choose green, we chose to protect our environment."

Programs and incentives involved in the plan include a voluntary green builder program for new residential construction, increased standards for renovations of county-owned buildings, fee waivers for building permits that use solar and wind powered alternative energy systems and solar powered highway message boards.

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