March 11, 2011
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

State Legislature

  • Card check unionizing bill returns -- "Card check" unionizing for farm employees has again been proposed for the fifth straight year in the California Legislature. All previous measures have been vetoed.  The system involves organizers approaching workers and urging them to sign cards that serve as votes in favor of union representation. The state's Agricultural Labor Relations Board would verify the signatures before approving the representation, if a majority of an employer's workers signed cards. Senate Bill 104 was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, (D-Sacramento.) Steinberg introduced a similar bill in 2008. It passed the Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Cannella bill would require economic analysis of enviro/safety regs - -  State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)  has introduced Senate Bill 639 requiring that all regulations undergo an economic impact analysis before being adopted or amended by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). SB 639 is designed to help analyze proposed regulations’ economic impact before being adopted, amended or repealed by CalEPA and Cal/OSHA. In particular, the economic impact analysis must take into account each regulation’s General Fund cost, its cost to private-sector employers, the amount of job loss expected, a description of all possible alternatives, a cost-benefit analysis of each alternative and a summary of written comments regarding the proposed action. This economic analysis will be conducted by an independent firm or university, and its ultimate report will be made available to the public on the state agency’s website.

State Agencies

  • State begins monitoring of air for pesticides in two Central Valley counties-- Machines from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation are sniffing the air in Kern, San Joaquin and Monterey counties to expand its knowledge of the potential health risks of long-term exposure to pesticides. The equipment is set up in Shafter in Kern County, Ripon in San Joaquin County as well as in Salinas in Monterey County. The air monitoring network is the first of its kind in the nation. DPR will monitor for 34 pesticides, including six fumigants and 11 organophosphates. DPR selected the pesticides based on the amount of use and their potential health risks. Shafter, Salinas and Ripon were selected from a list of 226 communities based on pesticide use on surrounding farmland and demographics, including percentage of children, the elderly and farm workers.  If it has the money, may expand the air network in the future to include more frequent sampling, more pesticides or more communities, it says.

Air Quality

  • Reporting form for ag extensions to the diesel truck rule available - - The state Air Resources Board has released the reporting form for the diesel truck rule. Letters are being mailed to those who have applied for the ag extensions for the diesel truck rule. The letters will list the trucks that producers had previously reported as eligible for exemption, identify potential errors, and ask producers to report the mileage on those trucks as of Jan. 1, 2011. A listing of upcoming workshops to help producers comply with the reporting requirements can be found by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  The ARB’s preference is for on-line reporting, although paper forms are available. The letters will include online account information so that fleets can use the online system to view and update their records. Fleets that did not report their ag trucks for the extension can still take advantage of the agricultural vehicle provisions by submitting information about qualifying vehicles by the March 31, 2011 deadline. This is the final opportunity to apply for the extensions. The online reporting system is available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/trucrsreporting/.  Agricultural fleets that reported in 2010 can login to the online system to provide January 1, 2011 odometer readings and update vehicle information for 2011.  Fleets that are reporting for the first time can create an account and enter their information directly online without using paper reporting forms.  For fleets that do not have internet access, please call 866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) to request copies by mail .

Water

  • Cardoza, Denham, Costa Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Water Storage in Central Valley - - U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) on March 2, 2011joined Central Valley Congressmen Jeff Denham (CA-19), Jim Costa (CA-20), Devin Nunes (CA-21) and Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) in introducing a bill to increase water storage in the Valley while also improving flood control and creating jobs. The bipartisan bill, HR 869, will increase the capacity of Lake McClure by modifying the existing spillway at the New Exchequer Dam.  The legislation will allow temporary (2-8 weeks) storage of water in wet years within existing FERC Project boundaries, instead of releasing the excess water immediately when it is not needed downstream. HR 869 would create approximately 70,000 acre feet of additional water available, which is enough to supply about 160,000 homes.  The project would also generate an additional 10,000 megawatt hours per year of clean, renewable energy for the Central Valley

  • .Water in Calif. snowpack remains above average-- Recent storms have made up for January's dry weather, keeping California's snowpack above average, state water officials reported Tuesday. Hydrologists from the state Department of Water Resources took manual and electronic readings for the third time this winter and they found that water content in the Sierra snowpack is 124 percent of normal for this time of year. The state estimated it will be able to deliver 60 percent of the water requested.  That compares to delivering 50 percent of the water requested last year, when the state initially projected a record-low allocation of 5 percent due to the lingering effects of the 2007-2009 droughts.

  • Experts call for major reforms in California water management -- California's water management system is deteriorating — on both economic and environmental fronts. Only a broad, integrative approach will reverse the decline, according to a new book released by experts from UC Davis, the Public Policy Institute of California, UC Riverside, UC Hastings College of the Law and Stanford University. It is the first time in 40 years, the authors say, that independent experts have come together to offer a long-term view of the water challenges throughout California. In "Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation," experts in geology, fish ecology, engineering, economy and law urge a more comprehensive approach to meeting the growing demand for reliable water supply, healthy ecosystems and flood protection.

Congress

  • House Ag Committee Passes Resolution to Stop EPA From Requiring Permits for Pesticide Applicators - - The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture passed a bill on March 9, 2011 that would stop EPA regulators from requiring permits for farmers and other pesticide applicators. H.R. 872 will move to the full House after the committee unanimously passed the resolution during a committee business meeting to markup and vote on the bill. EPA officials are expected to soon announce the final rules for the new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, by April 9. That could require some farmers to obtain pesticide application permits depending on where they live. The Obama administration also asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for an extension of the deadline to Oct. 31, to provide more time to work through the program's effects on the Endangered Species Act and in response to concerns raised by state, agriculture and agriculture chemicals industry officials.
     

  • Bipartisan bill to block EPA's climate agenda introduced in House - -Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives March 3, 2011 introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910), a bill "to block EPA’s controversial backdoor climate change agenda that would further drive up the price of energy for American consumers and job creators at a time when gas prices are already spiking and job creation remains weak," according to a statement from the authors. The bill is narrowly drawn to clarify the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, preserving the law’s important and longstanding functions to reduce air pollution.

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