Napa County wants itself and local cities to be on the same page in taking steps to help combat climate change.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday discussed two ideas. Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht proposed that local jurisdictions pass a climate change proclamation and Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza proposed that local jurisdictions form a regional climate protection authority.
Napa County wants to pursue both ideas. The question to be answered in coming months is whether local cities and other local agencies are interested.
“In my mind, the proclamation is the starting point,” Wagenknecht said.
The two ideas are somewhat intertwined. A draft proclamation says the jurisdictions will explore creating a regional climate protection authority. Among other things, the authority could establish countywide greenhouse gas reduction goals and strategies for each jurisdiction to adopt.
Presently, the county and cities create their separate climate change strategies without coordination.
For example, the county is working on a climate action plan with such possible carbon-cutting steps as phasing out gas water heaters in favor of electric water heaters. But the county’s requirements would apply only in the unincorporated county, not in the cities.
“Climate change doesn’t stop at jurisdiction borders,” Pedroza said.
Wagenknecht said the local jurisdictions working together would have a better change at securing climate change grants from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Yountville Mayor John Dunbar said his town adopted its own climate action plan in late 2016. He said the jurisdictions could each have their individual plans, but work together.
“This would be less an authority and more of an alliance,” Dunbar said.
St. Helena Mayor Geoff Ellsworth said his city will be interested in what happens next.
“I do believe we’re facing a climate emergency,” Ellsworth told supervisors. “So I think there’s an urgency to our effort.”
Representatives from Napa Valley Vintners and Napa Valley Grapegrowers expressed support for the effort. They talked about steps farmers take to combat climate change, such as maximizing the ability of vineyards to sequester carbon.
Molly Moran Williams of Napa Valley Grapegrowers said she hopes each jurisdiction won’t have completely siloed climate plans.
Sonoma County formed its Regional Climate Protection Authority in 2009 to coordinate climate protection efforts among its nine cities and various agencies. What a Napa County authority would look like, if it is formed, remains to be seen.
Local resident Jim Wilson of Napa Climate NOW! has long spoken out about the need to take local steps to combat climate change. After the Board meeting, he expressed satisfaction with what he had heard.
“It’s the right direction,” Wilson said. “We’ll see if it can be done quickly. I see good energy today from a variety of groups in support.”
Meanwhile, Napa County continues work on its own climate action plan. Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison said the draft environmental impact report should be available for public comment in about three weeks.