When state legislators return to Sacramento next week, climate change will be at the top of their agenda. Still pending are finalization of the state’s climate change investments for the coming year and, most important, setting the road map for climate change policy in California beyond the year 2020.
For California agriculture, these decisions will impact whether or not there are resources available for the state’s farmers and ranchers to address a changing climate. Given the latest ag and climate change news of on-going drought impacts and rising temperatures hurting some crops, farmers and ranchers are weighing in, calling for support for programs like the Healthy Soils Initiative.
As we reported back in June, the FY 2016-17 budget was finalized without the legislature and Governor deciding how the state would invest billions in cap-and-trade revenues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over $100 million in proposed funding is on the line for California farmers and ranchers to reduce water use and save on energy, improve soil management and store more carbon in agricultural soils, and reduce potent greenhouse gases like methane.
The funding decisions will be taken up by the legislature in August, the final month of the current legislative session. Those decisions are also part of a larger discussion in the legislature and with Governor Brown on how California will continue to address climate change.
Current law (AB 32) requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Senator Fran Pavley has proposed Senate Bill 32, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. CalCAN supports the bill as it seeks to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by supporting a diversity of strategies that help develop renewable energy, energy efficiency and many of the “climate smart” agriculture programs we’ve advocated for over the years.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has authored AB 197, a new climate change bill that is also up for debate in August. Now co-joined with SB 32 (both must pass the legislature or neither will pass), AB 197 creates term limits for members of the California Air Resources Board, which implements the state’s climate change laws, and provides other parameters to ARB on implementation of the greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Currently, the bill is heavily weighted towards urban-oriented climate solutions (e.g. transportation and refinery emission reductions) and speaks little to the unique and important benefits of agricultural solutions to climate change. However, we are cautiously optimistic that may change as the bill is being debated and CalCAN and our allies weigh in.
As we head into this significant moment in time for California’s climate change laws: if you haven’t already, now is the time to contact your state representatives to let them know you want them to support action on climate change, like SB 32, and on-going investments in climate smart ag programs like Healthy Soils.
Every call, every email, every letter makes a difference! Let us know you what you hear back from your state reps: firstname.lastname@example.org