Spotlight: Pinole’s Efforts for a More Sustainable Future

Spotlight: Pinole’s Efforts for a More Sustainable Future

We are proud to spotlight the City of Pinole and its efforts to trailblaze a climate-friendly future by demonstrating how sustainable practices can be incorporated in the municipal, commercial, and residential functions of a city.

In 2010, the City of Pinole was the first community in Contra Costa County to adopt a sustainability element in its General Plan to define objectives and goals for making the city more sustainable. In 2021, the Pinole City Council adopted Resolution No. 2021-93 to declare a climate emergency, and city staff began preparing a Climate Action Plan. We spoke with Pinole city leaders to learn about their vision for the plan, including how the city is reducing emissions, advancing the green economy, and prioritizing environmental justice.

Devin Murphy, Pinole Mayor Pro Tempore and MCE Board Director, has been a key voice in the city’s efforts to protect the environment, citing his childhood in Bayview Hunters Point, which is historically a community of color and housed a toxic waste site. Most of his relatives and friends had asthma, and his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. Growing up he believed these health issues were the norm. During his higher education, he learned about environmental injustice and realized that these issues were preventable. As Murphy stated,

“Communities of color have often been the victims of environmental injustice. Those in leadership have a responsibility to center people and lead the way to a more healthy and sustainable future.”

Emission Reductions

Pinole has adopted greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals as part of its Climate Action Plan. This process started with a GHG inventory, which began in January 2022 and is expected to be completed by April 2022. This emission reduction plan includes new methods of reporting and monitoring emissions to support California’s ambitious climate objectives.

“Our Climate Action Plan will provide goals, strategies, and actions to enable Pinole to achieve or exceed GHG reduction goals,” said Lilly Whalen, Community Development Director for the City of Pinole. “These emission reduction plans reflect values that are important to Pinole community members.”

To support GHG reductions, the city is connecting residents with tools to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient, including a partnership with MCE. In 2018, Pinole partnered with MCE to provide residents with locally controlled clean energy service.

“Our next step in creating a sustainable economic system is shifting to an energy democracy. Energy democracy supports local economies and contributes to the health and wellness of all people,” said Murphy. “That’s why I’m so proud of the work that MCE and other CCAs are doing across California.”

Pinole is also prioritizing the expansion of accessible and environmentally friendly transportation options, including replacing the city’s vehicle fleet with hybrid fuel and other alternative fuel vehicles, as well as connecting residents to electric vehicle charging stations.

The Green Economy
Pinole’s leadership aims to support economic and sustainability goals simultaneously. A large part of the city’s response to climate change includes embracing the expansion of green infrastructure and green industry to boost the local economy.

“Our transition to a green economy includes preparing our workforce for new types of careers while ensuring that our capital improvement plan is focused on the environment. Creating a green economy isn’t just about energy. It’s also about infrastructure, health, housing, public safety, and transportation,” said Murphy.

Pinole’s vision for the green economy prioritizes the support of small businesses and aims to help local business leaders grow in energy-efficient and environmentally conscious ways.

Environmental Justice
Pinole’s Climate Action Plan addresses the disproportionate effect of climate change on not only overburdened and underserved people and communities on the frontline of impacts but also those already suffering from a range of challenges, such as lack of economic opportunity, racism, age, disability, and exposure to pollution.

“The updates to our General Plan related to environmental justice will be prepared alongside the development of the City of Pinole’s Climate Action Plan,” said Whalen. “This Climate Action Plan presents a great opportunity for the City to take a holistic approach in evaluating issues relative to climate change, including adaptation and resilience strategies.”

Pinole is updating the City’s Housing and Health and Safety Elements and adding a stand-alone environmental justice element to support equitable housing, health, and safety initiatives.

“In the past two years, we’ve made great strides in our Climate Action Plan and public engagement around environmental issues. It’s not only about ensuring that our community is sustainable,” said Murphy. “It’s also an economic imperative to ensure that there are jobs and opportunities for investment. If we bring more people into this conversation, we can see different viewpoints and create space for new ideas. That’s a beautiful thing about organizing and a beautiful thing about policy at the local level. “

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