One of three Elk Grove planning commissioners who from the city's Climate Action Plan said Thursday he was having second thoughts, triggering a reversal of some of the changes.
George Murphey had originally agreed with fellow commissioners Frank Maita and Brian Villanueva that the city should not take a position in what they called the debate over whether human activities are causing the planet to warm.
But when Murphey saw that commission staff had from the document that explained what global warming is and how it will likely affect California, he balked.
"I was taken aback that we had removed so much language," from the document, he said at the commission's meeting Thursday. "We removed all the background information, which whether I agree with it or not is scientific information."
Commissioners by consensus chose to put the background information back in the document—which outlines how Elk Grove plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades—but left intact many other changes deleting reference to warming. They voted 3-1 to recommend the city council approve the plan, with Maita dissenting, saying the plan would hurt Elk Grove's economy. (Villanueva was absent.)
The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District has criticized Elk Grove's plan as not ambitious enough for the city to do its part towards reducing California's emissions by 15 percent by 2020, a goal now enshrined in state law.
"We are very concerned at the increasingly non-committal nature of [the document]," the district's executive director, Larry Greene, wrote in an April 17 letter to commissioners. "The plan measures in many cases have been weakened and will likely not achieve the 15 percent reduction of GHG by 2020..."
On Thursday, Greene told commission staff he didn't understand how they could loosen many of the plan's requirements—such as energy-efficiency audits for buildings—but still estimate they would get the same reduction in emissions.
City planning manager Christopher Jordan said he was confident in his calculations but would let Greene's staff review them.
The City Council is set to discuss the Climate Action Plan at its May 23 meeting.