The Golden State’s government plan to do everything except properly govern the state continues apace, with the prison system touting how green it is, CalTrans emphasizing its commitment to equity, and the creation of our own space force to track methane emissions here on Planet California.
Starting with the space force – At a cost of $100 million, California is helping to launch washing-machine sized satellites that can track carbon dioxide and methane emissions (and even “fugitive methane emissions,” which one assumes comes from cows that broke out of San Quentin) throughout the state.
The program, under the rubric of the California Air Resources Board, is meant to allow for better forecasting to better address climate change.
“If you have an eye in the sky, the efficacy of our requirements goes up significantly,” CARB’s Jorn Herner told Science magazine.
The state has partnered with the Pasadena-based non-profit called Carbon Mapper, who will run the project. Carbon Mapper also partners with a number of other, climate-related activist non-profits and people like Michael Bloomberg, who gave it $25 million a couple of years ago.
For its part, CARB says it is “committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with successful regulatory programs targeting methane and CO2 and will continue to explore how best to use this new information to mitigate emissions even further.”
The satellites are expected to be launched later this year, though it is doubtful they will be able to track their own launch emissions.
Back here on earth, the state’s prison system is getting in on the green game as well.
Since 2010, the facilities of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) have, according to their website, cut their energy consumption by about 15%, their water use by about 18%, and their “greenhouse gas” emissions by about 27%.
Whether or not these decreases are related to the 40% drop in the number of prisoners is unknown.
Per the website, “CDCR is committed to being good stewards of the earth’s natural resources and reducing impacts to the environment; reducing the cost of doing business; serving as examples for offenders to follow when they transition back to their communities; and assisting in making communities healthier.” (It’s good to see that parolees will now be more likely to recycle.)
For its part, CalTrans jumped on the warm and fuzzy bandwagon that is equity, updating its “Race & Equity Action Plan (REAP)” document last year:
The 2019 REAP update to the 2022 REAP will be a living document incorporating the Caltrans Districts and several HQ Divisions actions. The Caltrans Office of Race and Equity, Equal Employment Opportunity Program (EEOP), and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) worked to organize the new actions into our guiding four P’s:
- Programs and Projects
- Partnerships, and Planets;
(It would be churlish to note that updates to things normally happen after they are created and there are in fact 6 “P’s” involved and not four so this reporter will not do so.)
Like so many other government equity-related plans, the CalTrans version is something only a bureaucrat could love. For example, 2020 accomplishments included “many training opportunities for the Executive Board and staff; provided training geared toward planning staff with Planning Horizons; and increased the availability of race and equity literature at the Caltrans Library.”
For those few who are unfamiliar with the CalTrans Library, it is located at 1120 N Street, Room 1430, Sacramento, and is open to the public but by appointment only. You can, however, search through its catalog at: https://caltranslibrary.on.worldcat.org/discovery .
In line with its overarching equity statement, CalTrans says it is “committed to meaningfully engaging communities most impacted by structural racism through an equitable engagement process where everyone is treated with dignity and justice.”
Doing so, it seems, involves many meetings and much jargon with an 18-page gridded “living document” as its touchstone. The REAP action plan includes race and equity retreats for the board, hiring more people, increasing “allyship,” a move to “create opportunities for staff and external engagement around gender equity and intersectionality,” holding equity lunches (referred to as “Brown Bag Lunches” in the plan – one guesses CalTrans didn’t get the memo about that term,) increasing the focus on “mobility justice,” and, of course, deal with the “Renaming and Removal requests (that) have increased over the years, mainly focusing on renaming potentially problematic historical figures.”
This much work has necessitated the creation of an “Interagency Equity Advisory Committee,” which is chock-full of “stakeholders” and will have its “kick-off” meeting in about a month.
In its guidelines for committee membership, CalTrans noted that any applicant should “have a history of equity-centered personal or professional experience, community leadership, or be actively engaged in transportation equity, policy, programming, advocacy, or related fields such as health, air quality, climate, housing justice, community, and socio-economic development, etc.” and should represent marginalized communities, including “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, rural communities, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual individuals, older adults, youth, low-income, etc.”
It is currently unknown if, in the future, CalTrans will stop using the word “blacktop.”
You can find the REAP plan – and the committee membership requirements – in the PDFs below.FEB2022_REAP_Combined-a11y
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