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Wine industry should lead call for climate innovation

2012-12-15T20:59:00Z Wine industry should lead call for climate innovationNapa Valley Register Editorial Board Napa Valley Register
December 15, 2012 8:59 pm  • 

In public comments praising county staff’s Climate Action Plan proposal in April, Sustainable Napa County’s Jeri Gill told the Board of Supervisors that Napa needed to go on a carbon emissions diet.

Last week, the board decided it wants an environmental nutrition plan that still includes a substantial chunk of chocolate cake.

Eight months after hearing that staff had created a climate plan clearly designed to ask the most from the county’s cash cow, the wine industry, supervisors sent staff back to the drawing board last week to devise a plan more focused on reducing traffic and addressing the county’s housing issues.

The proposal they heard last week was not significantly different from the one presented in April. Yet no alarms were sounded then. So why did county leadership ask for a such a drastic shift last week?

Perhaps Supervisor Diane Dillon said it best in April: “People don’t pay attention to these things until it directly affects them.”

The significant implications of the climate proposal on new winery development and expansion are better understood now that several test cases have been applied to the standard. The wine industry pushed back once it saw that expansion proposals — especially those that sought to attract more tourism — would be hit hardest by the new environmental targets.

The wine industry argued that the proposed restrictions — which called for new projects to reduce carbon emissions by 38 percent — were infeasible without the purchase of costly credits to offset their emissions and did not value good deeds done by winemakers to protect the environment after the 2005 standard for carbon levels was set.

Napa vintners and grapegrowers should be applauded for the environmentally friendly methods they have developed in the past decade to reduce carbon emissions.

But Napa wine professionals should also help pioneer a new — and necessary — standard for environmental stewardship.

Everyone agrees vehicle traffic is the local environment’s biggest villain.

Napa’s wine and tourism industries are the reason that traffic exists.

Those industries must then be at least partially responsible for finding solutions to the problems created from those trips.

The message last week from winemakers was clear: The Climate Action Plan’s hammer blow to new transportation-reliant development is the wrong course.

County supervisors agreed. The model county staff has been asked to create now would reduce traffic without deterring more tourist visits and would likely promote more affordable housing.

No small task, to be certain. Traffic and housing concerns have festered for decades and their impact continues to grow.

A climate plan based on these ideals will require significant innovation in the county’s transportation planning and housing makeup.

Local wine and tourism leaders should be at the forefront of that research.

Every year, Napa wineries, hotels and restaurants shovel millions of dollars into marketing efforts designed to bring more people into the valley. Some of those funds should be diverted to assist the county in its task of radically changing the way people move from Point A to Point B in this county.

Napa is known throughout the world as an agricultural trailblazer and should strengthen that reputation by stepping to the front of the climate change movement.

The wine industry must help Napa County have its climate cake and eat it, too.

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(9) Comments

  1. publiusa
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    publiusa - December 16, 2012 6:34 am
    But ...the county fails to require the wine industry to deal with the 15,000 tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere every year by the fermentation of grapes...why is that?
  2. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - December 16, 2012 8:00 am
    "Napa's wine and tourism industries are the reason that traffic exists" - really? How do you know that? I tried to get my hands on stats on who are in the cars and was told we don't have that information. Ever driven up valley before 8am? Traffic is as bad as any weekend mid-day - those annoying tourists. And you know what the tourists that are here do? They make the wine business economically viable so that you see vines instead of houses.

    Furthermore, no one from the wine industry said no, we don't need to do more. They said the plan needs more work.
  3. glenroy
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    glenroy - December 16, 2012 9:30 am
    This is much to do about nothing…..i the ice cap melted 30% it would not raise sea levels more than an inch and it wouldn’t be the first or last time…it would be normal cycles.
    All the independent data, the growing circle outside the heart of this research scam, clearly show norms in the past and present, temps are norms, ranges are norms and projections are norms.
    Just go back and replay the ranting and raving clown Gore, listen to what earth would look like by 2013…on New Year’s day walkout side…if everything looks normal it is because it is normal.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… god bless all those who deserve it.
  4. glenroy
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    glenroy - December 16, 2012 4:47 pm
    A little more balance to what has been undebatable…actual data.

    http://www.globalwarmingheartland.org/?gclid=COTBqvfjgo0CFRAkggodeC__pQ
  5. napablogger
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    napablogger - December 16, 2012 5:13 pm
    wineandfood, nctpa has the stats, I was on the last citizens committee and we were told that 70% of the traffic is work related, 8% are tourists. The wine industry just released a report, as I am sure you know, describing what a huge business we have here and it is growing rapidly. You include tourism which I am sure is where a lot of the new traffic is coming from, but I don't agree with you we need it to make the wine industry work. We were selling our grapes with no problem in 1972 without all this.

    If 70% of the traffic is work related and the wine business is by far our biggest industry...well it doesn't take much more to deduce where the traffic is coming from.

    I don't read this editorial as accusing the wine industry of saying they won't do anything. I read it as saying, you rejected Hillary's plan so you need to come up with one of your own. It specifically congratulates past efforts, in fact.
  6. Wineandfood
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    Wineandfood - December 17, 2012 8:30 am
    You should have a conversation with NCTPA - they do not have updated information - I asked. And you can sell your grapes, but the wineries also need to sell the wine. Have you been keeping up with the wine business? It's not as easy to sell a bottle of wine, Napa or not, in this global marketplace. Just because your wife inherited a vineyard and you've been here for a blink of the eye, does not make you an expert.
  7. napablogger
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    napablogger - December 17, 2012 9:48 am
    wineandfood, you are right, I am not an expert. What I do know is that no matter how many hotels and new wineries we build it will never be enough, there will never be enough tourists to sell wine to because the more you grow the more you have to grow. Growth will happen until no one can move and there will still be somebody saying they need more, more marketing events, more hotel rooms to get yet more tourists up here, legalize weddings, etc.

    It takes effort to sell any product, Napa wine has done really well, even during the recession. How much is too much?
  8. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - December 18, 2012 4:30 pm
    Go Blogger! Speak the truth!
  9. gettingreal
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    gettingreal - December 18, 2012 5:39 pm
    There's more evidence that temperature drives Co2 than there is that Co2 drives temperature. Scientists who push an agenda are exactly opposite of everything science is supposed to be about.
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