State Legislature Approves Budget, Climate Change Investments Delayed

This week the state legislature approved a $125 billion state budget. The budget bills are silent on the FY 2017-18 expenditures for climate change programs, including the Climate Smart Agriculture programs, because efforts to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program, the source of funding for the climate programs, stalled out.

Source: Pete Bobb, Creative Commons

Assembly Bill 378, the cap-and-trade extension bill that coupled greenhouse gas reduction requirements with air pollution regulations, failed to pass out of the Assembly. The industry-backed cap-and-trade extension, AB 151, never made it to the floor and Senate Bill 775, the Senate’s only proposal, did not receive a hearing.

But there is still plenty of time in the legislative session for a deal to be struck to extend cap-and-trade beyond 2020. Since funding for the climate change programs began in 2014, the final decision on program allocations has always come at the end of session, well after the budget deadline. The uncertainty around cap-and-trade and possible program reforms only increases the uncertainty around funding for FY ’17-’18.

Last month, CalCAN released our principles on cap-and-trade. They include the following:

  • Continue climate change program investments in working lands and rural communities.
  • Prioritize co-benefits and sustainable agricultural solutions.
  • Prioritize multi-benefit offsets in California.
  • Ensure a stable market that achieves real greenhouse gas emission reductions.
  • Seek environmentally just, equitable climate policy.
  • Ensure a just transition for workers.

Click here to read the letter and full set of principles.

Implementation of Climate Smart Ag Programs Improved

A budget trailer bill*, SB 92, includes a needed fix to language that was included in last session’s budget trailer bill that would have required onerous outreach and mitigation requirements for farmers and ranchers applying to Climate Smart Agriculture programs. SB 92 no longer requires applicants to the Healthy Soils Program, State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and the Alternative Manure Management Practices Program (AMMP) to meet the heavy reporting, outreach and mitigation requirements. Dairy digester projects are not exempt from these requirements.

* A budget trailer bill includes policy language to direct the implementation of programs funded under the state budget.

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