Proposals for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks for the nine-county Bay Area were discussed today at a packed workshop hosted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Leslie Szeto, an air pollution specialist for the California Air Resources Board, said the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, formally known as Assembly Bill 32, requires that greenhouse gas emissions for the state in 2020 be reduced to the level of emissions in 1990.

Szeto said the bill says that the goals for 2020 are not the endpoint and that there should be an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

She said a follow-up bill in 2008, Senate Bill 375, creates a sustainable communities strategy that links climate policy with an integrated regional land use and transportation planning approach to reduce emissions from cars and light trucks.

MTC Planning Director Doug Kimsey said SB 375 requires that emission reduction targets be set by Sept. 30.

Kimsey said the MTC, ABAG, the Bay Area Air Quality Management Agency and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission plan to issue draft targets by June 30 so that the public has three months to comment on them.

Szeto told more than 100 people who attended today’s workshop that, “We need to be aggressive on cars and light trucks” because transportation is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

She said, “The targets should be the most ambitious possible” but she didn’t suggest a specific level.

Kimsey said, “We view 10 percent as an ambitious target” in terms of the amount of reductions by 2020.

Kirsten Schwind, the program director for Bay Localize, an Oakland group that supports aggressive emissions reductions, said, “We should reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 according to the United Nations.”

Although AB32 is the basis for setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office recently said in a recent report that the legislation will result in near-term job losses in the state, even though advocates claimed that it would create jobs.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, who reviewed the bill at the request of State Senator Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, said in a March 4 report that “certain individual businesses and households will be seriously affected” by the legislation and “near-term prices of electricity, gas and other energy sources will rise.”

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