State election results: Impacts on agriculture and climate change

In yesterday’s election, Californians definitely rejected Proposition 23 and defended AB 32, the state’s landmark climate change bill. Voters saw through the deceptions of the oil company backers of the measure, and showed that they understand that it’s possible to both strengthen the economy and tackle climate change. California leads the world in its commitment to dealing with this challenge. Here’s a recap from the No on Prop 23 campaign:

The defeat of [Proposition 23] signifies the first and largest public referendum in history on clean energy policy. California voters cemented our state’s role as a trailblazer for clean energy policy across the country and worldwide. These results signal an important triumph for our broad coalition that stood up to out-of-state oil refiners who sought to unravel California’s groundbreaking clean air law to protect their own profits.

During the battle to protect AB 32, numerous California farmers spoke out in opposition to Prop 23. Now, we can get back to the business of trying to ensure that its implementation serves California agriculture as well as possible.

Another threat to AB 32 in this election came from the Governor’s race. Had Meg Whitman been elected, she had indicated that she would have frozen AB 32 implementation. In  contrast, Brown has long been an advocate for renewable energy and climate protection. We will be educating Brown’s administration about the opportunity to promote methods of sustainable agriculture as crucial tools in reducing on-farm emissions and helping safeguard the viability of California’s agricultural sector in the face of climate change.

Unfortunately, one barrier to AB 32 was erected yesterday with the passage of Prop 26. It amends the state constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the state legislature anytime a government agency tries to assess a fee on a company that is not then used to regulate that entity. This means a legislative supermajority will be needed to approve the fees needed to implement auctioning, monitoring and reporting systems for an effective cap-and-trade program. A story in the Los Angeles Times stated that Prop 26 could cause AB 32 rules to be”vulnerable to legislative gridlock over fees.”  Once it became clear that Prop 23 was failing, many oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce shifted their contributions to Prop 26 instead.

What now? CalCAN will continue to be the voice of organic and sustainable agriculture, advocating that agriculture needs resources to adapt to climate change and provide solutions. In the near term, we will provide testimony to the California Air Resources Board on Dec. 15 and 16 as they take comment on their newly released rules for cap-and-trade.

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