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Mitigating Greenhouse Gases from the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project

Hit “reply to all” and urge your City Council members to support greenhouse gas mitigations from Chevron that will require funding of the urban forest and reduction of VMT in Richmond.


Trees as a Mitigation for Both Pollution and Greenhouse Gases


At the New partners for Smart Growth Conference, I attended a session entitled “Urban Forests and Local Mitigation Measures: Essential Tools in Climate Change Strategies.” Recent studies indicate that local mitigation measures must play a critical role in climate change strategies. This session introduced participants to 1) climate change resources for local governments, and 2) a range of climate change activities taking place across the country at the local level, and 3) an in-depth example of planning and climate change activities at work. The session emphasized the climate change benefits of sustainable urban forest management strategies. Participants also received a detailed look at a cutting-edge urban project designed to improve air and environmental quality, receive SIP credit, reduce stormwater runoff, and increase urban livability through a sustainable tree canopy management and enhancement program.

Speakers and their contact information follow:

  • Mark Sendzik, Ph.D., Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. EPA, 919/541-5534, sendzik.mark@epa.gov
  • Kim Lundgren, Regional Director, Northeast, ICLEI U.S.A. Northeast Regional Capacity Center, 617/850-9045, kim.lundgren@iclei.org
  • Michael. F. Galvin, Supervisor, Urban & Community Forestry, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 410/260-8507, mgalvin@dnr.state.md.us
  • David J. Nowak, Ph.D., Project Leader, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 315/448-3212, dnowak@fs.fed.us  
  • Catherine M. Miller, Principal Planner-Sustainability, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 413/781-6045, cmiller@pvpc.org

The U.S. Forest Service has significant resources about urban forests. See http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/people/dnowak for just one example. Go to the Forest service website at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/ and search for “urban forest” or “climate change,” and dozens of publications will pop up.


The bottom line is that Richmond’s urban forest is significantly below national standards, and urban forest benefits include (according to the U.S. Forest Service):


  • Air pollution removal
  • Air temperature reduction
  • Reduced building energy use
  • Absorption of UV radiation
  • Improved water quality
  • Reduced noise
  • Improved human comfort
  • Increased property value
  • Improved physiological and psychological well-being
  • Aesthetics Community cohesion


Augmenting Richmond’s urban forest, both for expansion and maintenance is a no-brainer for a Chevron mitigation that is highly defendable. There are plenty of experts and studies out there who will provide supporting testimony.


Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in Richmond as a Greenhouse Gas Mitigation


In California, 40% of greenhouse gases come from motor vehicle transportation, and 30% comes from privately-owned automobiles. Any significant reduction has to reduce VMT. There were many sessions on this key issue, one example being “Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change.” In this session, a team of leading urban planning researchers concluded that urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it. Meeting the growing demand for conveniently located homes in walkable neighborhoods could significantly reduce the growth in the number of miles Americans drive, shrinking the nation's carbon footprint while giving people more housing choices. "Growing Cooler" reviews a wide range of studies and offers smart growth policy options that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Three of the study's authors discussed the findings of the report and offered ideas for moving forward with climate-friendly growth. Also, see http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/gcindex.html.

  • Reid Ewing, Associate and Research Professor, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, University of Maryland, 954/895-5128, rewing1@umd.edu
  • David Goldberg, Communications Director, Smart Growth America, 202/412-7930, dgoldberg@smartgrowthamerica.org
  • Steve Winkelman, Manager of Transportation, Center for Clean Air Policy, 914/481-4507, swinkelman@ccap.org

There are so many things that can be done in Richmond to reduce VMT of Richmond residents, including:

  • Increasing Police and activities of the Office of Neighborhood Safety so that people feel safer using alternative means of transportation such as walking, biking and public transit.
  • Upgrading sidewalks to eliminate barriers and make them more attractive.
  • Making “Complete Streets,” including a comprehensive network of bike routes.
  • Providing incentives, subsidies and other public policy actions to encourage neighborhood retail clusters, especially ones that provide healthy foods and basic services.
  • Increasing trails for walking and biking.
  • Closing the housing/jobs balance to reduce commutes.

These measures will not only reduce VMTs and greenhouse gases, they will make Richmond residents healthier, happier and safer. They will reduce the cost of transportation and increase discretionary income.

The findings show that people who move into compact, “green neighborhoods” are making as big a contribution to fighting global warming as those who buy the most efficient hybrid vehicles, but remain in car-dependent areas. While demand for such smart-growth development is growing, government regulations, government spending, and transportation policies still favor sprawling, automobile-dependent development. The book recommends changes in all three areas to make green neighborhoods more available and more affordable. It also calls for including smart-growth strategies as a fundamental tenet in upcoming climate change legislation.

Requiring funding to reduce VMTs in Richmond is a highly defendable mitigation than can be imposed on Chevron, and there are abundant studies and experts to substantiate it.