California Seeks to Curb Sprawl
California lawmakers passed a bill aimed at cutting carbon-dioxide emissions by rewarding cities and counties that prevent urban sprawl and improve public transportation. The bill's proponents and transportation experts say it is the first measure in the nation to link government transportation funding with urban planning and CO2-reduction goals. Senate Bill 375 contends that cutting back on driving is as critical in the fight against global warming as producing cleaner fuels and more-efficient vehicles. Transportation experts say they expect the bill to become a model for state and national policy makers.

California Develops Toxic Chemicals Registry
Under two new laws, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control has until 2011 to develop a process for identifying and evaluating potentially dangerous chemicals and to set up a searchable online database where consumers can find information on chemicals. The law follows in the footsteps of chemical evaluation programs in the European Union and Canada but is the first such legislation in the U.S.

Berkeley, Calif., Finances Solar Installations Through Property Taxes
In September 2008, officials in Berkeley, Calif., approved a financing program for solar installations and energy efficiency improvements. The program allows the city to borrow money at favorable rates and use it to finance projects on both commercial and residential buildings. The owners of those buildings will repay the loans over 20 years through an addition to their property taxes.

More Green Building Legislation May be Imminent for New Jersey
Hudson County Assemblyman Ruben Ramos of Hoboken sponsored two green building bills as the Garden State’s fall legislative session opened up in Trenton. The first would require affordable housing to implement green design features and the second would provide low-interest loans for developers who construct or renovate buildings that qualifies to be LEED Silver certified.

One HUD Secretary Candidate Has Pushed for Green Initiatives
President-Elect Barack Obama has been rapidly naming his nominees for cabinet posts in his administration. That has generated speculation about the jobs he hasn’t filled yet, including the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD. One candidate, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, has pushed for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions via stringent green building codes and other measures. During the past year, HUD rolled out a nationwide pilot program to encourage owners of multifamily Section 8 properties to rehabilitate and operate their buildings using green building principles.