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Greenhouse Gas Emission Threshold In Santa Barbara County

Greenhouse gas emission threshold in Santa Barbara County

Let the County Board of Supervisors know that you support the lowest threshold possible for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. This Tuesday the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will consider options for setting greenhouse gas (GHG) emission thresholds from stationary sources. Their decisions will impact Santa Barbara’s ability to regulate GHG emissions for generations to come.
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Infographic: CEC’s Results In 2013

Infographic: CEC’s results in 2013

The Community Environmental Council (CEC) is a small and dedicated non-profit with a very big mission: ending the Santa Barbara region’s dependence on fossil fuels in one generation. It's been a busy year for CEC. After all, moving our region off fossil fuels is no small task.
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Most Popular Personal Stories Of 2013

Most popular personal stories of 2013

Santa Barbarans are leading the way in the clean energy movement. We've met locals who are installing solar panels on their homes and helping others go solar. We've heard from people who are driving electric vehicles and powering them with energy from the sun or commuting to work by bike or bimodally. Read our most popular personal stories from 2013 for a dose of inspiration going into the new year.

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Our Local Food System Explained, Part 2

Our local food system explained, Part 2

As part of Eat Local Month in Santa Barbara, CEC talked with local experts about local food systems. This is the second of two blog posts that explore the Santa Barbara food system, the system's biggest energy impacts, and simple steps you can take to reduce your food footprint.

Read Part 1 →

(Click image for full size version.)
FoodSystem

Our local food system can be simplified into six components seen in the graphic above.1 The food system in the U.S. accounts for around 15% of national energy consumption, so this system must be addressed as a part of our long-term energy strategy.2 Each part of the system has significant energy impacts -- from fertilizing the soil to growing crops, from refrigerating and cooking food to disposing of food scraps. Some of these impacts can be reduced with simple lifestyle choices, and some require larger scale systemic and regulatory changes. In this post, we look at what happens after the food has been grown, processed, packed up and shipped to your community.

 

Retail and Restaurants

11% of energy used in the food system

Much of our food is grown by farmers and then sold to grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and convenient markets for retailing to the public. A big portion ends up with restaurants, caterers, and institutional cafeterias (e.g. schools, prisons, hospitals, and universities). Most of the energy used by retailers is in refrigeration and lighting, and the restaurants use quite a bit in cooking. Both are energy-intensive users of commercial real estate.

Make an impact: Encourage retailers to prioritize energy efficiency.

Restaurants and grocery stores can reduce their impact by using energy efficient lighting and appliances in their retail spaces. They can also work to eliminate landfill waste generated by their operations. There are several utility and government programs designed to help this sector; a good starting point for resources is the voluntary Green Business Program.

 

Home Consumption

31% of energy used in the food system

The consumption of food at home is the largest component of energy use in the food system. From old, sparsely-filled second refrigerators in the garage, to ovens that are fired up to toast a piece of garlic bread, most of the energy consumption in the kitchen is used for refrigeration (40%), cooking (20%), and water heating for dishes (20%).

Make an impact: Recycle your extra refrigerator.

In 2005, 22% of households in the U.S. owned two or more refrigerators. Most households only need one to keep perishable food cold. Watch CEC's e-news for free refrigerator recycling programs. Information on refrigerator recycling →

Make an impact: Buy energy efficient appliances.

Old toasters, microwaves, and other kitchen appliances are much less energy efficient than the newer Energy Star appliances. If you're not sure how your appliances are performing, you can buy a Kill-A-Watt device for $25 to measure how much energy your appliances use. Compare your figures with newer appliances and decide if it's time to upgrade. More information →

Make an impact: Stop pre-rinsing your dishes with hot water.

New dishwashers are quite efficient, and it takes a considerable amount of energy to heat water for pre-rinsing.

 

Disposal: The hidden impact

The majority of our food waste ends up rotting in a landfill and releasing methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide. Only about 60% of the food grown and produced by the food system is actually eaten. The rest of the food is wasted by retailers, restaurants and consumers.3 That's a lot of food energy being wasted.

Make an impact: Compost your food scraps.

Composting food waste causes it to decompose aerobically, turning it into a valuable gardening product instead of a potent greenhouse gas. For tips on composting in your backyard, visit lessismore.org. Also, encourage your local government officials to adopt municipal composting as part of its waste disposal services. Information on business curbside composting →

 

A checklist

The food system is large, and analyzing energy use within the system presents complex questions. You can make a positive impact with a few lifestyle adjustments:

  • Buy organic.
  • Buy whole, minimally processed foods.
  • Buy local food.
  • Encourage retailers to prioritize energy efficiency
  • Recycle your extra refrigerator.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances.
  • Stop pre-rinsing your dishes with hot water.
  • Compost your food scraps.

Sharing is powerful too. Tell your friends and neighbors how you're reducing your food footprint.

It's also helpful to encourage your elected officials to make food-energy issues a priority. Subscribe to our Action Alert email list and when it's time to mobilize, we'll let you know.


1Graphic adapted from the original at: http://www.nourishlife.org/teach/food-system-tools/
2Canning, P., Ainsley C., Sonya H., et. al. (2010). Energy Use in the U.S. Food System, ERR-94, U.S. Dept. of Agri., Econ. Res. Serv.
3Hall, K., Guo, J., Chow, C. (2009). The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. PLoS ONE 4 (11): e7940.

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Our Local Food System Explained, Part 1

Our local food system explained, Part 1

October is Eat Local Month in Santa Barbara, and as part of this month of increased awareness of our local food system, CEC has been talking with the top local food experts in the area. This is the first of two blog posts that will explore the Santa Barbara food system, the system's biggest energy impacts, and simple steps you can take to reduce your food footprint.

Read Part 2 →

(Click image for full size version.)
FoodSystem

Our local food system can be simplified into six components seen in the graphic above.1 The food system in the U.S. accounts for around 15% of national energy consumption, so this system must be addressed as a part of our long-term energy strategy.2 Each part of the system has significant energy impacts -- from fertilizing the soil to growing crops, from refrigerating and cooking food to disposing of food scraps. Some of these impacts can be reduced with simple lifestyle choices, and some require larger scale systemic and regulatory changes.

 

Growing and Harvesting

20% of energy used in the food system

Growing and harvesting is often perceived as one of the largest energy users in the food system, but in actuality, this stage uses about 20% of the total. The energy used in this area powers farm equipment and facilities, produces synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, irrigates crops and dries grains.

Despite only accounting for only 20% of the energy use,, agriculture and ranching emit 83% of food system greenhouse gases. This is primarily because of the climate-changing power of nitrogen (from those fertilizers) and methane (from cows and other livestock).

Make an impact: Buy organic.

Consumers can have some influence on this section of the food system by buying organic. Organic farming does not use synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, and consumes less energy than conventional farming methods. A study comparing conventionally grown crops with organically grown crops showed that organic corn required 31% less fossil fuel inputs than conventional corn, and organic soybeans used 17% less fossil fuel inputs than conventional soybeans.3

 

Processing and Packing

23% of energy used in the food system

Much of the food we eat is processed at a factory, and virtually all of it is packaged in some form before it reaches consumers. Anything you can buy in a can, jar, packet, or bottle is processed in one way or another. Americans continue to eat more and more processed food each year: the amount of energy used to process food in the U.S. has been increasing by an average of 8.3% per year since 1997.

Make an impact: Buy whole, minimally processed foods.

Buying whole, minimally processed foods shrinks your food footprint, as pre-consumer food processing requires 16% of the energy in the food system. For example, an apple pulled straight from a tree requires significantly less processing and packaging than pre-sliced apple slices commonly found in grocery store produce departments.

 

Transporting

15% of energy used in the food system

Transportation of food from the farm, to the factory (in many cases), to the store, to your home consumes 16% of the energy in the food system. Santa Barbara County is in the top 1% of agricultural counties in the US, and yet 95% of the food we eat in Santa Barbara is imported. Local growers produce plenty of food to feed Santa Barbara County residents, yet we still import much of our food, often from thousands of miles away.

Make an impact: Buy local food.

Choosing local food is a good way to maintain a small food footprint. Eating locally reduces "food miles," the distance your food travels to reach your plate, and cuts down on energy use. With so much food available in Santa Barbara, eating a low-impact diet is easy. Join our Eat Local Month Facebook group for tips and tricks on eating locally.

 

Next time, we'll explore the parts of the food system that occur after you purchase food and take it home to eat a meal. Read Part 2 →


1Graphic adapted from the original at: http://www.nourishlife.org/teach/food-system-tools/
2Canning, P., Ainsley C., Sonya H., et. al. (2010). Energy Use in the U.S. Food System, ERR-94, U.S. Dept. of Agri., Econ. Res. Serv.
3Pimentel, D., Hepperly, P., Hanson, J. (2005). Environmental, Energetic, and Economic Comparisons of Organic and Conventional Farming Systems. BioScience, 55(7), 573-582.

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Santa Maria Energy Project

Santa Maria Energy Project

Original Alert: Let the County Planning Commission know that you oppose the Santa Maria Energy Project. If approved by the commission, the project would use cyclic steaming to heat and extract oil — an intensive method that makes it one of the largest greenhouse gas producing projects in our region.

Result: 240 people took action against dirty oil development. The Planning Commission voted in favor of mitigating the project’s carbon emissions by only 29% and not the requested 0%.

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Santa Maria Energy Project Appeal

Santa Maria Energy Project Appeal

Original Alert: On Tuesday, November 12, the County Board of Supervisors will consider our appeal of the Santa Maria Energy Project. CEC, along with EDC and others, appealed the Planning Commission’s approval of the project, as it only required a 29% mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Result: 159 people took action, helping establish Santa Barbara as an environmental leader.

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Plan Santa Barbara

Plan Santa Barbara

Original Alert: The City of Santa Barbara's General Plan Update is coming back to the City Council, Tuesday, July 26. Key decisions relating to energy, climate change and the environment will occur tomorrow, and the impacts will be felt for decades. Please help us encourage the Council to empower future generations with appropriate tools and resources.

Result: The City Council strengthened ER6.6 by writing in requirements for all residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, but the Council did not take action on the use of renewable energy on historic structures as we asked.

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SBCAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy

SBCAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy

Original Alert: On Thursday, October 18, the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) will be voting on a regional transportation plan. They can decide to force our county to sprawl into open spaces and farmland — or they can concentrate future growth in transit-oriented, infill developments in existing cities that will reduce traffic and congestion. Please help them make the right choice.

Result: 63 people took action. The SBCAG board voted unanimously to support Scenario 3+ for their SB 375 Sustainable Communities Strategy.

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MTD Transit Service Reduction

MTD Transit Service Reduction

Original Alert: Teamsters Union Local 186, which represents MTD drivers, mechanics, and utility workers, has concerns about the impact of California’s Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) on bargaining rights. This has created a situation that may cause MTD to lose federal funding and would lead to a severe reduction in transit service in our area. Ask the DOL not to cut our service.

Result: 183 people took action.

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