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by Patricia Roth | December 18, 2012 | 4:40 PM

What role do wineries have when it comes to climate change?

We received an email today from the Wine Institute reporting that the Napa County Board of Supervisors considered adopting a proposed Climate Action Plan last week. The plan would have required new and expanding vineyard and winery projects to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent over business-as-usual practices. If a project could not achieve that reduction onsite, it would be obligated to purchase offsets for a proposed 25 years.

The county's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, which is consistent with the state's goals.

Wine Institute noted:

In addition to testimony provided by Tim Schmelzer of Wine Institute, the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa County Farm Bureau, Winegrowers of Napa County, and Napa Valley Grapegrowers, as well as several small winery and vineyard operators, all testified in opposition. Wine Institute’s testimony focused particularly on the fact that other counties were likely to look to Napa as precedential, and that the lack of solid data behind assumptions in the plan clearly showed it was not ready for adoption. 

I asked Napa County planning director Hillary Gitelman about the next steps. She said the Board of Supervisors has asked staff to re-examine the plan by focusing on transportation emissions. In the meantime, they directed the Planning Commission to apply best management practices for projects that come in for review.

So what does that mean for wineries?

Gitelman said:

Wineries that come to the county for approval are going to have to demonstrate they are thinking about this issue and reducing emissions using best practices. In the past, the commission has been used to seeing projects with alternative energy, like solar, and good site design, to help with transportation emissions. The Planning Commission will apply these on a case-by-case basis.

On January 18, there will be a meeting to discuss the definition and application of best practices. Watch this website for updates.


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