Bay Area Council Blog: Energy and Climate Change Archive

NAPA-SONOMA SALT MARSH RESTORATION PIPELINE PROJECT

HISTORIC VOTE TURNS THE TIDE FOR SAN FRANCISCO BAY

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority on Wednesday approved nearly $18 million in grants for wetlands restoration and flood protection projects in San Francisco Bay. The grants are the first made by the Authority, which is funded by Measure AA, the first nine-county regional ballot measure approved by over 70 percent of voters in 2016. The Bay Area Council partnered with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Save the Bay to lead the Measure AA campaign, whose success was made possible by generous contributions from Council members PG&E and Facebook, among many others.

The Council became increasingly engaged in Bay resilience following a 2015 Bay Area Council Economic Institute report—Surviving the Storm—estimating the region could suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages in an extreme storm event under present sea levels. In addition to providing habitat and water quality benefits, wetlands also naturally absorb tidal energies and can be paired with lower, less costly levees to improve local flood protection against rising sea levels. Measure AA will raise $500 million over 20 years for shoreline and other projects that improve the region’s resilience to extreme storms and rising seas.

Among the initial projects to receive funding was the Montezuma Wetlands’ Tidal and Seasonal Restoration Project, which is managed by Bay Area Council Executive Committee member Jim Levine. Congratulations, Jim! To engage with the Council’s Committee on Water & Resilience, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

megaregion report

Charting a Course for Megaregion Coordination

A rising economy, a massive housing shortage and growing traffic in the Bay Area are causing major changes across the Northern California megaregion that represent both opportunities and challenges. The Bay Area Council is spearheading an effort to bring together business, government, academic and civic leaders from across the megaregion on planning to embrace the former and minimize the latter. The Council last week traveled to Stockton where CEO Jim Wunderman presided over a meeting that included mayors from Stockton, Merced, Modesto and Livermore, leaders from key rail and regional planning organizations, and business and academic leaders.

In addition to hearing about the foundational research on the Northern California megaregion put together by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and University of the Pacific, participants focused on the potential for future rail investments–in the ACE train and high speed rail–to spur economic development. The meeting, hosted by University of the Pacific in partnership with Valley Vision, was the first of a series of meetings the Council is convening across the megaregion in the coming months that will seek to produce a common policy advocacy agenda for megaregional stakeholders. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s work on the Northern California Megaregion, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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New Report: California’s Healthcare Sector Key to Meeting State Climate Action Goals

New Report: California’s Healthcare Sector Key to Meeting State Climate Action Goals

Sector Uniquely Positioned to Take Lead On and Accountability For
Sustainable, Low-Carbon Transformation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Despite the recent 10th anniversary of California’s landmark climate change legislation SB 375 targeting global warming pollution, the state is currently falling short of its ambitious targets set to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2030 and 2050. Meanwhile, the devastating public health and economic consequences of climate change are ever-present in the wake of California’s deadliest wildfires, increased respiratory diseases and extended droughts. A new report unveiled today by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, California Clean Energy Fund and Health Care Without Harm – Building a Climate-Smart Healthcare System for California – assesses how the healthcare sector is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in helping the state meet its GHG reduction goals.

Read the report>>

California’s healthcare sector accounted for 13 percent of the state economy as total spending reached $292 billion dollars in 2016. However, this booming sector is also one of the most energy intensive, responsible for an estimated 10 percent of all GHG emissions nationwide. Hospitals represent the lion’s share of those emissions at 36 percent requiring significant energy to support operations, and unique heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs. Other key contributors to increased levels of GHG emissions generated by healthcare include employee and patient travel, facilities built,  products and equipment, food procured and served, and waste generated. The analysis estimates that California’s carbon-intense health sector could be responsible for between $1.6 and $9.5 billion in long-term damages each year.

“Transitioning away from fossil fuels and toxic chemicals is the most important public health intervention we can make to support healthy people and healthy communities,” says Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm.

With its mission to protect and improve health, combined with the huge economic costs of inaction, California’s healthcare industry is taking important steps to advance climate-smart strategies. Diving into case studies across the state, the report explores the cutting-edge innovations, strategies and investments being led by some of the top industry leaders like Kaiser Permanente, UC San Francisco, Dignity Health, Palomar and UC San Diego.

“Meeting state goals of bringing GHG emissions to 1990 levels will require the entire healthcare industry to act and transform,” says Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Just as California is a leader for the nation in taking action on climate change, healthcare can serve as a role model for all private and public sectors as it transitions to a sustainable, low-carbon future.”

“We know that when a sector seizes such an opportunity in its entirety, great transformation can happen that will improve the bottom line, build jobs and provide solutions to climate change,” says Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund. “We want to start a race of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs driving the innovations and new business models to do this in healthcare.”

The report outlines key sector recommendations necessary to achieve long-term sustainability and resiliency. Energy audits of facilities, investing in on-site and off-site renewable energy, waste reduction, conserving water and purchasing local, sustainably-grown food are among the key industry recommendations. Advancing smart policy on local, state and national levels will also be crucial, including streamlining the approval process of energy-saving technologies, creating an enforcement arm for the Solar Rights Act, continued state funding for renewables and energy storage, expanding Zero Waste Principles, and creating a sustainable water supply, among others.

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives.

About the California Clean Energy Fund
The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) is optimizing the clean energy transition by connecting money to investments, ideas to support and issues to solutions. Driven by the opportunity to accelerate climate protection, CalCEF is committed to creating 100%+ clean energy to benefit all. CalCEF’s family of initiatives seek to bring about the energy transition already underway, but sooner and better.

About Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. Health Care Without Harm works to reduce health care’s carbon footprint, foster climate resilient health systems, mobilize the health sector to address climate change as a public health issue, and advocate for solutions that accelerate a transition to clean, renewable energy.

Board

Council’s Board Welcomes Senator Feinstein and Mayor Schaaf

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf met with the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors Thursday to discuss a range of pressing issues, from healthcare reform and homelessness to infrastructure investment and public safety. Board Chairman and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed both leaders to a packed room at Kaiser’s Oakland headquarters. Feinstein updated the Board on her efforts to ban assault weapons, an issue she has championed for decades. She also discussed the importance of making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permanent as well as her interest in leveraging public private partnerships to repair and rebuild the nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.

Investing to expand and improve the region’s congested transportation system was also a top issue as Feinstein emphasized the need for a new crossing south of the Bay Bridge. Tyson thanked Feinstein for her great leadership and urged Council members to join a business delegation we’re leading to D.C. in May to promote California’s importance to the nation as some critics frame the Golden State as out of control.

Feinstein also gave warm praise for Mayor Schaaf, who described the progress Oakland is making in turning around years of crime and addressing a complicated homeless problem. Schaaf also highlighted a measure she is championing for the November ballot—the Oakland Children’s Initiative—that would invest in expanding access to early education and other early childhood programs. She touted the huge returns that early childhood investments have in increasing employment opportunities and avoiding expensive social and public safety costs. This is an issue that has long been a priority for the Council, whose executive leadership has expressed early support for Schaaf’s November measure as she works to get it placed on the ballot. The Council extends its gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for hosting our meeting.

Millbrae1

THUMBS UP FOR NEW HOUSING THAT COUNCIL BACKED

It won’t solve the region’s housing crisis alone, but it was a step in the right direction as the Millbrae City Council Tuesday (March 13) approved a much-needed 400-unit development that the Bay Area Council had endorsed. The Gateway at Millbrae Station project has been years in the making. A great example of a mixed-use and transit-oriented development located next to BART, the project represents much of what Bay Area Council members look for in development projects and what all residents should support to advance smart and sustainable development. The Gateway at Millbrae Station project will provide 80 affordable units for low income tenants, as well as 320 apartments for middle-income workers. Uniquely, qualified military veterans will be given priority for 55 of the affordable apartments. The Council is thrilled that Millbrae City Council recognized our region’s staggering need for housing and chose to say, “yes, in my backyard!” To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

TrafficTranspo

TRAFFIC RANKING POINTS TO URGENCY FOR BIG INVESTMENT

Not that Bay Area residents need a reminder of how urgently we need to invest big on regional traffic relief, but a ranking released this week by congestion research firm INRIX put some jaw-dropping numbers to the problem. The Bay Area ranked third in the U.S. as the most congested urban area, with traffic costing each driver $2,250 a year and costing the region $10.6 billion. Among cities, San Francisco ranked fifth worldwide for snarled roads and highways. The report comes as the Bay Area Council partners with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to win voter approval in June 2018 for a ballot measure—Regional Measure 3—that would invest $4.5 billion on key projects to ease gridlock, including improving critical highway interchanges where our worst bottlenecks occur, closing gaps in carpool lanes, improving BART service, expanding regional ferry service and other vital mass transit systems, improving connections between local and regional transit and enhancing bicycle and pedestrian corridors. Polling shows that RM3 can win with a strong campaign. To support our RM3 campaign and help move the Bay Area far down on the INRIX ranking, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

BART housing

LEADERS DISCUSS WAYS TO SOLVE THE BAY AREA’S HOUSING CRISIS

The Bay Area’s top business and political leaders converged at Facebook today (Feb. 9) to recommit themselves to addressing California’s housing crisis. The summit, cohosted by the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, featured state legislators David Chui, Jim Beall and Scott Wiener, who urged support for the upcoming state housing bond (SB3), a bill to increase density near transit (Wiener, SB827), and creating a cap and trade system for housing permitting. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf urged companies to invest in local affordable housing projects by working with cities to provide low-interest capital.

Led by Council CEO Jim Wunderman and Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, a veritable who’s who of housing and company leaders, including Andy Ball (RAD Urban) and Denise Pinkston (TMG Partners), among others, discussed the economics of housing construction, while Council Housing Committee Chair Carla Boragno from Genentech and Elliott Schrage from Facebook discussed how the shortage is hurting communities and the Bay Area economy. Participants, which included some of the region’s top c-suite executives, also talked about the solutions they plan to support at state and local levels. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

TrafficTranspo

REGIONAL MEASURE 3 TAKES IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD

A bold plan to invest $4.5 billion across the region to ease traffic and improve mass transit for millions of commuters took an important step forward this week (Jan. 10) when the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA)’s Oversight Committee recommended placing Regional Measure 3 (RM3) on the June ballot. The Bay Area Council, partnering with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, SPUR and the California Alliance for Jobs, gave input into the legislation by Sen. Jim Beall that authorizes the vote on RM3 and is preparing to lead the campaign for RM3’s passage. RM3 would make important investments to unclog traffic chokepoints on key major freeways in the East Bay, Silicon Valley and the North Bay, help complete the extension of BART to San Jose and replace its aging fleet, expand regional ferry service and make significant improvements to other key local and regional mass transit systems.

A recent poll by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) showed support for RM3 reaches as high as 60 percent, well above the majority threshold needed for passage. But polls are no guarantee of success and passing RM3 will require a concerted regional campaign to inform voters about the many benefits they will enjoy. To pay for the improvements, RM3 proposes raising tolls on seven state-owned bridges by phasing in three $1 increases over the next six years. BATA’s Oversight Committee recommendation to move forward with RM3 now goes to full MTC-BATA for final approval on Jan. 24. To help support the RM3 campaign, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

RBD team members

KEY MILESTONE IN SEA-LEVEL RISE DESIGN COMPETITION

The Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge entered its final phase on Thursday (Jan. 11), with each of the 10 world-class design teams being assigned a specific location on the San Francisco Bay shoreline to prepare for sea level rise. State officials estimate there’s a 67 percent likelihood that sea levels at the Golden Gate will rise by 1.1 feet by 2050. Those troubling figures build off of a 2015 study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that estimated the Bay Area could suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages due to flooding from a 150-year storm event under present-day sea levels.

The final Resilient by Design sites were the result of months of research and interaction between design teams, community members, and experts in government, industry, and academia. The final designs will be unveiled this spring. The Bay Area was awarded financial support to host Resilient by Design by the Rockefeller Foundation shortly after Bay Area voters approved the Bay Area Council-backed Measure AA campaign for a $12 parcel tax to fund multi-benefit flood protection/wetland restoration projects along the Bay shoreline. To learn more about Resilient by Design, contact Bay Area Council Vice President, and Resilient by Design Executive Board Member, Adrian Covert.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s story on Resilient by Design>>

Photo by New York Times

WITH RECORD BUDGET PROPOSAL, GOV. BROWN SEES RAIN IN THE FUTURE

There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.

The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.